March – Thematic Plan

If you have been following my termly plans, my topic for March is The Builders. If you are on Teaching Practice this topic will easily link to an overarching Homes theme and will link to animal homes for another 2 week theme.

I particularly like this theme as I find it links easier to lots of play areas. In the socio-dramatic area the children are the builders. I was lucky to have access to a plan of the school so the children work as builders and architects to plan their houses. They had hard hats and high-vis jackets along with some building materials.

In small world I added a crane and other construction vehicles. If you had a tuff tray you could also add it to small world to recreate a building scene. The construction area lends itself naturally to this topic.

Art could be many different activities depending on what strand you are working from. I have made houses using different cereal boxes, painted houses and recreated the houses from the three little pigs story using real straw! There are lots of other lovely ideas for this topic too.

In sand, you can recreate another building site by adding construction vehicles and crane if you want.

I used the Three Little Pigs as my main story to introduce the topic. My story sack was the Three Little Pigs also. I added the book Busy Building Site to my story sack to encourage vocabulary at home. I also designed my own newsletter for Parents for this theme which includes suggested songs, rhymes and vocab to encourage parental involvement at home. The parents newsletter is available from my Mash.ie store.

A thematic plan for March is also available in my Mash.ie store. It contains suggested curriculum links along with ideas for discrete lessons. Ideal if you are looking for ideas for Teaching Practice.

If you have any questions please send me a PM.

A.M.

Senior Classes Thematic Planning

Are you beginning Teaching Practice soon? Here are some ideas for a thematic plan with an overarching theme of Energy and Power.

Theme 1: Electricity.

If the school you are in has sets of electricity Science equipment then this topic might be of interest to you.

In English you could work on procedure writing, making a simple circuit or switches. This would link to your Science investigations. In Maths you could link your topic to Decimals and percentages – take an ESB bill and calculate discounts if possible. Exploring Sa bhaile in Gaeilge identifying what items need electricity. For History you could look at the History of the ESB. Changes in supply of power. In Geography there are many ideas for lessons with renewable and nonrenewable sources of energy. Science would link easily to procedure writing. Suggestions for experiments include making circuits and investigating switches. In Art the children make a diorama and add a circuit (light bulb). I have tried this in my class and they really enjoyed it. It was great to hear the scientific language coming across through Art.

Theme 2: Industry

 

 

Industry allows for links with curricular areas such as English report writing on different types of power. The Industrial Revolution in History would link easily, similarly identifying local industries in Geography. In Science you could investigate pulleys as a force and design simple machines, this could link to your Art lessons also.

A thematic plan will be available on Mash.ie soon. There are task cards for electricity on my Mash.ie store also. These include step by step instructions for a number of electricity investigations. It includes pictures for the children to work independently.

If you have any questions on this post please send me a PM.

A.M.

Spellings V Word Study

Today’s blog post is all about the Senior Classes!

How many of you dreaded the Friday Spelling Test in School? I know I did and I still do!

Having attended a PDST workshop on literacy and a Word Study Approach I feel that it is something I can implement in my class and hopefully it will be beneficial to all my students. So I have decided to break away from the formal spelling test to a Word Study Approach for the second half of Term 2. If it works I will continue this approach into Term 3.

As part of a Word Study Approach I will take a variety of spelling patterns, focusing on 2 – 3 per week, and as the children read through a wide variety of text books, novels and independent reading they will watch out for words with this spelling pattern and add it to the list in their word study book. I will continue to use the formal Spelling Book in conjunction with this word study as homework activities.

The children will have a quick dictation exercise on Mondays so they become familiar with the spelling pattern. This is an approach I use in Phonics lessons too (even in the Senior classes I have phonics lessons). On a Friday I will replace the Spelling Test with a Dictation exercise using many of the words they have found throughout the week.

I have made my own Word Study Booklets for my classes. It contains a variety of Spelling Patterns. So far I have created one for 5th class and one for 6th class. I am working on workbooks for SEN pupils and once completed I will add them to my Mash.ie store.

I’ll add updates to my blog on how the Word Study Approach is working in my class. If you have any questions please send me a PM.

Story Sacks

I shared a competition for fabulous Story Sacks at the weekend. I would love to have them for the Infant classes, I started to make my own story sacks last year and my class really enjoyed them.

Story Sacks can be used to encourage shared reading at home. Shared reading is also an important aspect of The Literacy Tree from NEPS. Through story sacks parents can be made aware of the importance of reading to their child and reading with their child. The activities encourage oral language activities and fine motor activities if you prefer.

I tried to link my story sacks to my Aistear topic where possible. I often used the story to introduce the Aistear topic and by sending it home it encourages the parents to become more involved in the topic too.

Examples of story sacks I have made are The Enormous Turnip, The Jolly Postman, The Gingerbread Man and Harry and the Dinosaurs say raah.

As you can see in the pictures above the pack contains the story book, cut out characters from the story for puppets, fact book (where possible) and activities to complete at home.

The activities often had a fine motor or writing element, this links to the writing elements on The Literacy Tree. In the pictures above the Dentist Pack contains the story book Harry and the Dinosaurs say raah, characters from the story, a fact book about going to the dentist, activity sheet to colour in the dentist and some colouring pencils. I always tried to include everything they would need to complete the activities. For other story sacks I included play-doh, a mat and some play-doh cutters. In this way every child can participate fully at home.

Story sacks can be extended for First Class by encouraging more written activities and written responses to the book. Similarly the activities could reflect the Comprehension Strategy you are working on in class. I chose characters and finger puppets for my story sack as we were focusing on retelling the story in class.

Of course, parents will need direction regarding the story sack. I always sent an email out first explaining the story sack each month. In each story sack I also added a task card which outlined the contents of the pack and what activities were to be completed.

I’ll add more photos of my story sacks to my facebook page over the next week. If you have any questions please send me a PM.

A.M.

Literacy – Writing

Writing is an important part of Literacy. The NEPS document explores how handwriting, spelling and meaningful writing are part of the writing process in Literacy development in Early Years. This is show in The Literacy Tree below.

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*Literacy Tree from NEPS Balanced Approach to Literacy Development in the Early Years 

Handwriting:

I was guilty of focusing on the mechanics of writing and handwriting, while I agree it is important to teach the mechanics beginning with fine motor and pencil grip before letter structure. It is also important to provide the children with free writing activities and opportunities to engage in meaningful writing.

Meaningful Writing:

Children, even in the early days of Junior Infants, must be made aware of how marks on a page are forms of communication and messages. In my classroom I had a writing area which was a huge attraction to everyone. Children had access to markers, post-its, pens and a variety of other writing materials for everyone to use. If i ever needed to send a note to another class/teacher I would use the writing area too. In this way the children saw me use writing as meaningful communication.

I used a variety of strategies to encourage free writing, each child had a free writing copy on their desk, along with whiteboards and chalkboards for the children to use around the room. Some Aistear topics led to more meaningful writing activities than others. But I would encourage the children to label different things for me during Aistear. Especially in construction and small world, so when I visited that area during Aistear the children could explain to me what they had made/built that day. Children in socio-dramatic were always encourage to write forms or other notes too.

From early in Term 1 I would introduce play diaries to my Senior Infants. I used clipboards with record sheets but I also added a high frequency word list and a topic word list. The topic word list changed with the topic in Aistear. I found these topic word mats on Twinkl or Sparklebox. Sample word mats can be found here.

At the end of the session the children were encouraged to write about or draw what they had done in Aistear that day. The children loved these play diaries. In term 2 Junior Infants were given a blank copy which was their play diary and they were also encouraged to write about their play in Aistear. Senior Infants were then able to share their word mats and encourage and support the Junior Infants in their play group.

Play diaries encourage the children to use approximate spelling and it will also give the teacher an outline of what stage the children are at in relation to writing development and spelling. Play diaries also provide the class teacher with a level of assessment for Aistear and Literacy.

These are some examples to encourage meaningful writing through Aistear. If you have any questions please send me a PM.

Maths Box – Review

I had been using the new Maths Boxes from Prim-Ed with my 6th class in Term 1. While they were enjoying them they did feel that some of the language used in the cards was challenging. However we persisted and here is my updated review.

I have now introduced Maths Cards to my 5th Class. My 6th class continue to work from Box 5 at the start of a topic and Box 6 at the end of the topic. This is ideal to revise previous content objectives at the start of the topic.

I have a group of high achievers for Maths across both classes and they are using the Maths Cards in almost every lesson as early finisher activities. In a multi-class setting it gives me another opportunity to focus on a specific topic or concept in Maths and I know that the children who are well familiar with the concept (such as long division for any 5th class followers) can be challenged through the Maths Cards and they can focus on the Numbers Strand too.

The cards are colour coded so I can ask the children to focus on a specific colour in each set. There are two sets of each card in the pack which is perfect for pair work. I have set my groups up with mixed ability partners for this task, so two children work together to solve one maths card. Children work on their individual whiteboards and record their answers on the record sheets which can be found in the Manual.

My 5th Class had heard 6th class discussing the language used in the cards so they were anticipating this challenge and are becoming more confident in the cards. Some of the cards have novelty topics which the children enjoy.

Overall, I will continue to use the Maths Cards throughout the year, and would recommend the cards to everyone. Having two sets of each card also allows cards to be shared with a learning support setting for some children, to help prepare them for independent work back in their classroom. Similarly cards could be shared with teachers of lower or higher classes depending on the range of abilities in the class.

If you have any questions about this post please send me a PM.

A.M.

Matific – A Review

My class have been using Matific over the last few weeks. Matific is an online Maths Programme which covers all areas of the Primary School Maths Curriculum. The school can purchase a licence so that all children can have individual programmes.

Kathryn from Matific helped me for the initial set up. I sent her the names of children in my class and Kathryn created their profiles for me. I then allowed the children free access in school to see what they thought of it. They loved it, as they completed tasks & missions they collected Monsters for their book. They particularly enjoyed this (even though they are 5th & 6th).

I then had a webinar training session with Kathryn, it was easy to access the webinar and I could do it at home. This was a great opportunity to explore the teacher’s side of Matific. Kathryn explained how I could set up the classes and change students from group to group. We also explored how to set up groups for differentiated activities. Matific also allows the teacher to prescribe certain activities which could directly link to your own scheme. Similarly there is an opportunity to set tasks for homework so that the child has an opportunity to access it at home. The pictures below show the child’s profile and their map.

The teacher’s section also includes reports on the progress of the class. You can view the students’ usage, their performance and areas that they may need support in or to revisit the topic. There is also the option to add emails for the parents so they can also get an update on their child’s progress.

There are a variety of activities across the different strands, there are also some really brain teasing activities, especially the jug activity. I myself had to sit with some children to figure out this activity. Children across the classes in my school have had the opportunity to use Matific and it has gotten really positive feedback.

 

Personally I have been very impressed with Matific. The children have enjoyed using it in class and I have also set them homework on Matific. I can then check if they have accessed it and completed the homework on my own settings. I particularly like the teachers’ settings. After my webinar training I created new groups within my class and I could set specific tasks for them. I could also set work from other classes to students who may struggle with certain maths topics. This helped to revise the topics before moving on. Similarly for any SEN children they can work at an appropriate level for them. Children don’t realise which class setting they are working on. They work from the assigned activities.

I really like the assessment and report mode too. You can review what activities they have done and it clearly outlines which children may need additional support or need to revisit this topic.

Kathryn has been really helpful throughout the trial of Matific. From setting up the children’s profiles to helping me create groups in the Webinar. It was really helpful to have a personalised approach to the set up.

Matific is available for a 30 day trial for schools which includes product training for all staff members either on site or through a webinar. Kathryn has also offered a very generous discount for my followers. If you quote AISTEARMATIFIC in an email to her during your purchase you will get 6 months added onto your annual subscription. This is ideal to purchase now and your renewal will be in August/September 2018 (you could add the charge for the subscription to book rental/school feeds in September 2107).

Check out some Matific videos on YouTube here.

If you would like further information on Matific contact Kathryn on the details below.

Twitter: @KathrynMatific
A.M.

February Thematic Plan

Sorry this months thematic plan is a little late. If you are following my Aistear Termly Plan then your topic is the Garden Centre.

I like to use the story Oliver’s Vegetables for this topic. It introduces the children to lots of different vegetables and how Oliver is encouraged to eat them while visiting his grandparents.

Within my Aistear areas we discovered the Garden Centre topic.

The role play area was a difficult one to get enough resources, however my latest addition to this area was artificial flowers. I purchased some articfical flowers in different euro shops and discount shops. These really added to the role play area. Parents offered some children’s garden tools and I added some myself. Finally I had a little market stand that I had purchased a few years ago.

Within small world, the children had different farm vehicles and small construction blocks to build their garden centre and gather crops.

Within construction the children built their own garden centre.

I changed the sand area completely. I replaced the sand with compost and the children began planting a variety of seeds for vegetables and bulbs for flowers. I bought special pots that could be planted straight into the school garden when the weather improved.

Finally in Art we were a little adventurous and we explored printing. We used lots of different vegetables and the children created lots of different pictures. They really enjoyed this activity.

The art table could also be used to make flowers for Valentines Day and Mothers Day if planning ahead.

Hope you enjoy this topic. While the compost area can be a little messy the children really do benefit from it. The thematic plan is available in my Mash.ie store now.

Any questions, drop me a P.M.

A.M.

Easy learn Froggy Match-it

I am a big fan of the books from Easy Learn particularly for the Infant Classes. EasyLearn contacted me to review their new app Froggy Match-it.

Over the past few weeks we have been using Froggy Match-it in different classes. The app is available to purchase for both Android and iPhone/iPad devices.

We have access to an iPad in my school. As you can see from the picture below you can have up to 5 profiles on the app. So 5 children can work on the app and it will store their progress and information.

 

Beginning with an into level. Level 1 then begins with CVC words. It has word picture matching,a spelling game where you drag the letters into place and a spelling game where you must input the letters yourself.

Level 2 has similar games and also includes consonant blends.

 

 

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At every level there are downloadable worksheets also. This is great to reinforce the level you have been working on. Similarly the child’s score is recorded at the end of the level and they are given the option to play the game again to get a better score. This is ideal for some children who benefit from re-learning and over-learning phonics and sight words.

As the levels increase the tasks become increasingly difficult. Higher levels include word and sentence structure.

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The children who worked on this app thoroughly enjoyed it. Similarly the teachers who worked on the app with children in their class were very impressed with the structure of each level and how it can store information for up to 5 children.

It is an ideal app for anyone working in a Learning Support Session as you have the freedom for 5 children to work at their level with the additional bonus on downloading specific worksheets for homework or for use in class with their teacher.

Within the class setting the children could use this app during station teaching or independent work if supervised by teacher or SNA where possible.

For parents this app is great to encourage the children to blend and spell along with focusing on reading and sentences in the upper levels.

I particularly like the images in this app. They are very clear and precise, similar to the Easy Learn books. It is clear what item you are expected to blend and spell.

Overall I really like the Froggy Match-it App. It is a great addition to the resources in Learning Support and at a cost of €4.99 which allows up to 5 children create profiles it is very reasonably priced. I like the option to download the worksheets also to reinforce learning.

If you are looking for new apps to boost literacy support in your school I would definitely recommend Froggy Match-it.

If you would like any further information on Froggy Match-it please send me a PM.

*All images from Easy Learn

A.M.