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Thursday, 15 June 2017

How to use Minuscule in the classroom & a freebie

Have you heard about Minuscule? It is a fantastic (and cute) animated tv show of short episodes about insects that is great to use in the classroom. All of episodes are available on YouTube, most running for between 2 and 5 minutes.

I was first introduced to these by our districts speech therapist and I have used them from grades Prep (or Foundation/Kinder) to Year 4 for reading and writing activities. These episodes are perfect for developing vocabulary and discussing what might be happening. They only have background music and sounds, no speaking.


How I use Minuscule in the classroom:
Using prior knowledge Before watching an episode I like to give my students the title or tell them the types of insects in the episode if it's not mentioned. We then brainstorm everything we already know about this insect, e.g. ants- they can carry 100 times their bodyweight, they are small, they work as a team, etc.

Before, During & After (Predicting & what happens next) 
Pause an episode in different parts and predict what might happen next. I love listening to my students exclaiming things while watching these episodes and trying to work out what is happening. Ants is great for this- what is that? are they sugar lumps? marshmallows? where are they going? wow ants can carry heavy stuff! :) so cute! My students find it helpful to record their thinking before, during and after reading. Find my freebie here.


Retell Students watch an episode (Ladybug is great for this) and then turn & talk with a partner to discuss the beginning, middle and end.

Vocabulary: Brainstorm Before watching an episode we brainstorm what might happen, based on the title. We write 10 key words that we think might fit with the story.

Vocabulary: Stretch a sentence After watching we use the colourful semantics cards to create the longest sentence (or 'most colourful' or 'most expensive' depending on what you call it) we possibly can to describe the story. We focus on including all parts of a good sentence- who, what doing, where, conjuctions, etc. For older grades, I use these cards to help us write a summary of the video. If you've never heard of colourful semantics there is a great explanation here.

Summarise When working on summarising I like to use these SWBST activities from Mrs Thomas' Teachable Moments to write a summary of the videos. It's a great way to introduce summarising. My students take turns telling a partner before writing using one the activities from this free pack.

Writing My grade 1 and 2 students loved writing "what happens next" stories after watching an episode.

Do you use this in any other ways? I'd love to hear them! Leave a comment below.

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Wednesday, 26 October 2016

Easy Art Activity: Squiggle Line Drawings

Whenever I need a fast activity for a time filler, like when you all of a sudden have two grades for 20 minutes and or we bizarrely have finished all of our work before we need to my kids love Squiggle-Line pictures.

My mentor teacher showed me this activity in my first year of teaching and it has been a life saver every year. All you need to do is draw a continuous line on a page of plain paper (I prefer A3 paper as it takes the kids longer), overlapping until you eventually join the line back up. The aim is to create lots of different areas for the kids to colour in.

For little kids I make the rule that you cannot have the same colour 'touching' each other, for example, red in the bubble, blue, in the one next to it, etc. For older grades I have the same rule accept each 'section' must hold a different pattern as well as a different colour combination. 

Really easy but they also look super effective and great as a display.

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Thursday, 20 October 2016

Spooky Night Drawings

We created these fantastic 'Spooky Night' drawings today using soft pastels (aka chalk pastel). I gave the kiddos pretty much free reign as long as the drawing was a spooky night theme and I loved how creative they were! 


I showed them my example first (above), plus this one found on Pinterest and we discussed what other details we could include. Then we revisited how to use chalk pastel (the end like a pencil for sharp lines, the side for shading and adding large amounts of colour). 








We have created a few different types of these this year and it is amazing how far their skills have improved, particularly with using the whole page and adding lots of detail. So proud of my kiddos!

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Friday, 19 August 2016

Book Week 2016



Next week kicks off Book Week in Australia!  I always love sharing this week with my students, celebrating great Australian books and dressing-up like our favourite book characters.


I thought I would share a few activities and resources that I'm using next week. My first stop is always to the Children's Book Council site for this year's Shortlist. I usually focus on only the Early Childhood and Picture Book Categories in the classroom. 

I love going to the Zart Art Book Week PD and using the resource book they create each year to get ideas.  



Here are my favourite 3 books from this year's short list and 3 great  activities you might find useful. Click on the images for the original links & instructions.



Piranahas Don't Eat Bananas by Aaron Blabley
We love Aaron Blabley's books in my class and this one is hilarious! It is great for rhyming and there are also a heap of great crafts floating around.

Favourite Piranha activities:
1. Read the book or watch this YouTube video of the story being read by Two Teachers One Blog.

2. Make a Peg Piranha from Cleverpatch
Cleverpatch have a free template for this one & instructions here. You also needs wooden pegs, paint and glue.





3. Draw a 'Friendly Fish or Piranha' from Relief Teaching Ideas. All you need is an A4 or A3 piece of paper (depending on how big you want it. Too cute!


The Cow Tripped Over the Moon by Tony Wilson

This is another great book when teaching rhyme but is also fantastic for teaching about resilience, positive mindset and power of failure. And the illustrations by Laura Wood are gorgeous.




1. Read the book or watch this video of the author, Tony Wilson reading the story to his son (side note, watch this video it is beautiful).


2. 'Moon Jumping Cow' from Cleverpatch
This one is easy and only needs a paper plate, black and white cow template, foil, split pin and textas or blue paint. Click on the image for the instructions from Cleverpatch.



3. This is a great book to use for a STEM activity. Students could build their own machine or catapault to help the cow jump over the moon. I love this Cow Catapult activity from Science Sparks it only requires elastic bands, pop sticks and a milk top.




Finally my favourite book from this year's short list is Mr Huff by Anna WalkerThis book is perfect for teaching about managing emotions and feelings. Even though it is in the Early Childhood category I feel it has it's best potential used in grades 3-6 (and I even think with adults, I know I really relate to this one). 
I plan to use this with my whole class but also throughout the year for my high anxiety kiddos (it is also a great tool to describe depression). 

1. Watch Mr Huff being read on Play School. This is a great video with lots of the presenters from the past and present reading the book (Eddie Perfect reads in this... I could listen to that man read all day).


2. Discuss worries and how we can turn a bad day around. Look at Mr Huff and discuss how he becomes smaller as the boy does happy activities like going for a walk. Autism Teaching Strategies have some great worksheet for writing about emotions. Worksheet 6 (pictured) is the one I am planning to use with this book.


3. Make a Mr Huff (Zart Art activity). This was also my favourite activity from the Zart PD. It's really simple only needing some stocking, polyfill, joggle eyes and some pipe-cleanrers/chenille stems. Sorry I don't have instructions for this one but it is easy to work out.






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Monday, 1 August 2016

Olympics Art Activity

Olympics fever has hit my classroom this week! We have been on the countdown all term and the kiddos are very excited that Rio is not too far away.

We read about the Rio Olympic torch and then created this easy art activity (inspired by this post and idea from Art with Mr Giannetto).


I made the above as a sample but then realised I didn't have enough glitter glue so we created the version below using this template I whipped up (download it for free here).


The kiddos followed the following steps (you can get the pdf of the instructions here and the rings printable here):
If you haven't heard of or used Supertac it is kid friendly 'super' glue from Zart Art. It is a bit expensive at $20 a tub but it is worth the investment as it lasts for ages and really sticks.

Thanks for stopping by,
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Tuesday, 14 June 2016

The Maths Box Review

My class and I have been having a great time using The Maths Box 4 from RIC Publications in the last few weeks! We were super excited to receive* this and it's been a great tool to use during Math rotations. 

The Maths Box contains a Teacher guide, 2 sets of 75 activity cards that match the Australian Curriculum and 75 answer cards.


Each box has colour-coded activities focused on 10 areas (covering the 3 sub-strands of Mathematics- Number & Algebra; Measurement and Geometry; and Statistics & Probability):

  1. Number and Place Value; 
  2. Fractions and Decimals; 
  3. Money; 
  4. Patterns and Algebra;
  5. Using areas of Measurement;
  6. Shape;
  7. Location and Transformation;
  8. Geometric Reasoning;
  9. Chance; and
  10. Data Representation and Interpretation.


The cards themselves are durable and easy to use. My class were able to complete the activities independently after a short how-to lesson. 


The questions are easy to understand and there are a mix of multiple choice and written answers. The cards also have extension activities listed at the end that can be completed independently or in pairs.

Inside the Teacher Guide is a recording sheet that is very easy to use. As my school has a photocopying budget, I have opted for my kids to record the answers in their Math books. Either option is great and my kids have been able to answer the questions just as well this way but photocopying the sheets into a Math Book would be great if you were able to.

One of my favourite parts of the Math Box has to be the answer cards. My class are able to independently complete the activities on the card and then correct their answers themselves or by swapping with a buddy. This saves me time and puts the responsibility back on the students. Any chance they have of getting out a red pen to correct and they are there!


The Teaching Guide also contains:

  • Explanations about the cards;
  • Recording & Tracking sheets;
  • Sample card & answers;
  • Mini-Posters (love);
  • Resource sheets.




The colour posters are a particular favourite and will be great to copy and display. 

The resource pages are clear and easy to use, providing great activities for student Math books or whole class activities.

We are throughly enjoying this resource, if you would like a chance to review a sample pack visit RIC here and fill out the form.

*I have been asked to review this resource by RIC and all opinions are my own.
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Saturday, 28 May 2016

Five for Friday: End of May!

What a week! I am completely jealous of all the teachers in the Northern Hemisphere about to start Summer break. We are slowly trudging toward our mid-year holidays, while it is getting lovely and cold outside. I'm blogging to distract myself from writing reports {oops} so without further ado here is what we have been up to this week! 
Btw- Linking up with Kasey over at Doodlebugs for 5 for Friday.

~ One ~
We broke out the oil pastels to create these Owls using directed drawing. I love how all my kiddos pieces turn out completely differently even though we follow the same instructions.




~ Two ~
The kiddos (and staff) had a blast listening to Jonas and his "Ghana Beat My Drum" performance this week. It is an incursion definitely worth checking out if you are an Australian teacher. He was super funny and had the kids up dancing, as well as learning about Ghana and the different types of music.

~ Three ~
We have been surviving road works outside our school for the last few weeks. The arrival of the cement truck caused huge excitement this week! I think the tradies will be glad when they've moved on to  a place where they don't get asked so many questions :)

~ Four ~
I received the new Maths Box from RIC publications this week and holy coconuts it is awesome! A review is to come soon but we have already put it to good use during our Math groups.

~ Five ~
Coldplay here we come! I scooped up tix for when Coldplay are in Melbourne in December. Bring it on!

And now I guess I have to get back to report writing! Make sure you check out the other fantastic posts in the link-up here (and get summer break envy like I have).

Happy weekend peeps,
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