Sunday, 21 December 2014

Sunday Scoop

Well…here it is… my final blog post of 2014 and I've chosen to link up with teachingtrio for the Sunday Scoop- click here to find Sunday Scoops from other lovely bloggers.

Why is it that I always feel the need to clean my oven ready for Christmas? This 'need' never possesses me at any other point in the year yet I know that should I ignore it I will feel incredibly uncomfortable come Christmas Day!
We go on holiday the day after Boxing Day (New York thanks for asking!) and I am sure I've seen my passport…somewhere!!! Oh and in all honesty it should read 'start my packing before Christmas Eve!' I'm not worried though…I'm a packing pro…honest!
My work friends and I have started a tradition in the run-up to Christmas of a pamper and a good feed- my only job now is to trawl Pinterest to search for the perfect festive nail art design…that's a job for when I'm just about to fall asleep then! 
Don't forget to check out my TPT store for the New Year sales- lots of new products will be uploaded including this Space themed Math bundle-

Have a very merry holiday and a wonderful start to 2015- see you on the other side!

Friday, 19 December 2014

Festive Five for Friday

I'm not sure if the fantastic doodle bugs teaching is hosting a link-up this week but I felt like reflecting on the festivities now that I have had a chance to slob out slow down and think!

Today was the first day of our Christmas holidays and, if I'm honest, I have found something lacking so far this festive season. There could be several reasons for this; I'm getting older, I have no children, I've been very busy and stressed, we're busy planning for the holiday we're going on the day after boxing day, we were supposed to be celebrating this Christmas in our new house but that has stalled, all of our family Christmas get-togethers have already happened….take your pick!! I'm plumping for a combination of all of the above! 

However, despite my lack of festive feelings these past few weeks, the children have most definitely been living the Christmas dream and I have tried my up-most to enter the spirit- there 'aint no Grinches up in here!!
We loved this 'Elf Yourself' craftivity from Megan Astor's TPT store- read my blog post 'How to keep the kids off the ceiling' for more information and further ideas to store away for next year. 

My timetable and planning went well and truly out of the window last week- the green are assessment and things we HAD to get done- this weeks time table simply read 'School performance, crafts and DVD's'. I'm sure I am not alone in hating a timetable like this- so much to do and so little time to do it in…rehearsals, of course, over ran and the children couldn't cope with the lack of structure but hey, the performances were fantastic and loved by all!!!
I managed to get my decorations up in time for my Dad, sister, niece and nephew coming to visit- we all live miles away from each other (my father lives up in Aberdeen nearly 6 hours drive away) and I am in the middle so my place was the obvious choice for our mini Christmas  meet-up.

I'm lucky enough to live in the beautiful Lake District in the north of England and we have a tradition were we choose our tree from Whinlatter. As my niece and nephew have never had a real tree it was amazing to take them along and let them pick it for us. I let them decorate it too which, if you know me, was a massive shot of 'control-freek therapy' (I rearranged the decorations after they went home!) 

How do you run your Christmas parities? In our school KS2 play party games in the hall, dance and then have a buffet plate of food. KS1 split the children between the 3 classrooms based on what they want to do. We learnt a long time ago that many of our infants don't like loud music and really can't cope with an afternoon of dancing and games so we give them the choice between a) a quiet room with a DVD and colouring in b) a dance room and c) a room with traditional party games. After an hour we all go back to our own rooms, play pass the parcel and musical statues and then have our party food. 
This year my colleagues and I decided to have a little 'after Christmas party party' and dragged out the Christmas tree piƱata we have had for 7 years but keep forgetting to use- we loved it! Why should the kids get all the fun on party day?!
One of my favourite things during the festive season is to sit with the tree lights on, Christmas music playing or a film on while I sit wrapping gifts. One of my least favourite things to do though is writing out tags! Last year I decided that I had had enough of trying to think of a range of benign messages to label my gift with and bought a stamp  
Now all I have to do is write the persons name on one side and the jobs a good'en! 
How has your festive build up been going? Do you have any tips you use to help keep your sanity during the Christmas preparations? 
Feel free to comment and share 

Sunday, 14 December 2014

Table Tubs- an organisational goldmine!

I don't know about you but one of the things I struggle most with is instilling a sense of pride and responsibility in my 6 year olds- I want them to look after equipment and tidy up after themselves but I don't want to have to spend hours waiting for them to stop fussing.

This year I think I've cracked it!

One of the first things I posted as I started my IG teacher journey was this picture of some £1 peg baskets I purchased in the Summer holidays-

I have used them for my Guided Reading groups for a while and if you look carefully around my classroom then you will spot them being used to organise resources left, right and centre but the greatest use I've found for them is as table tubs.

I have 5 'tables' in my classroom and each has a tub!

Inside each tub there are 3 buckets or beakers-
The large bucket is used as a table bin where any cutting out or general table rubbish can be put. The smaller, numbered bucket contains a pencil sharpener and is our sharpening bin.
The beaker is used as a pencil pot and also contains the tables rubber.

Each child keeps their 'good-fit' library book in their tables tub and it also contains support materials such as VCOP mats and number squares.
If I ever want to clear the tables quickly then the children just place everything inside the basket and it can easily be lifted to another place with minimum fuss.

One of the greatest things about the tubs are the mini bins- they cut down on children getting up and down and only have to be emptied at the end of the day (one of our class jobs).

At the start of the school year I put washi tape on the top of my pencils- a different design for each table- and I'm yet to give out any new pencils- a first for sure! I explained to the children that they must ensure the correct number of pencils with their tape on are inside their table tub at the start and end of the day and that it is their job to do this not mine- it has worked a treat!

I got the lovely table number labels as a freebie on TPT
from Teresa Lewis  and I cut out smaller ones to put on the class whiteboard. Each table can earn points for having everything organised, being polite and being the first to be tidy or ready- the team with the most points on a Friday gets a lucky dip from the prize bag. Each week The Desk Fairy visits a desk and the children get very excited and quite competitive to see if it will be them!

I've laid down explicit instructions for how to use glue sticks in class this year too (last years class went through our box of 40 by Christmas!) and we are just about to get our second lot out- I only put 5 out at a time!

I know this is a different group of children but I honestly don't think that is the reason my resources are lasting longer and the children are tidier- I think it's because I've changed!

I've not only told the children what I expect of them as in previous years but now I've given them the tools to achieve it and the positive affirmation to strive for.

I love my table tubs and can't believe I've never used something like them before- gone are the days of a simple pencil pot!

If you use a similar system or try out any of these ideas then please let me know how it works for you.

Sunday, 7 December 2014

How to keep the kids off the ceiling and my Sunday Scoop!

I'm currently sat here watching 'Elf' one of my all time faves! 'The best way to spread Christmas cheer is…' if you can't finish that quote then I don't want to know you!

As we all know, this time of year is amazing hellish in school- the children are far too hyper to produce work of any standard and we are far too worn out to actually plan and deliver a lesson! All we are truly doing is counting down the days until the answer to the following question is no-  'Is it too early to put a DVD on or do we have wait until next week?' You hear me… I know you do!

It is at this point, with almost 2 weeks of term time left, that I try to have some go-to tried and tested activities ready to squeeze in between the endless play rehearsals- obviously we have to get the obligatory cards, calendars and gifts made but if your school is anything like mine where these have to be kept to afternoons and 'real' lessons must continue in the mornings then keep reading!

Having finished our work on The Polar Express last week I decided to eek out another lesson using a super cute craftivity from Megan Astor on TPT. We started off with a picture from The Polar Express of all of the 'Elves' gathered in the town square and a suitably glittered letter declaring that Santa wished to recruit some more. It directed us to hit play on the computer to see what an applicant would have to be able to do.. cue fits of laughter as 6 of the class appeared as elves dancing away to a christmas song curtesy of the super 'Elf Yourself' computer app. The letter then went on to inform the class that all interested parties must 'Elf' themselves and fill in an application form.
This product was so easy to use and well thought out that it basically ran itself- my children were inspired to write for a purpose and had a real giggle while doing so… a 'real' lesson if ever I saw one!

Another activity I am planning to use is the amazing 'Christmas Activities: Reindeer Edition' freebie (yes you read that right!) from First Grade Schoolhouse's TPT store. I am going to link this with a visit to the Reindeer Barn on a must visit website for me at this time of year.

This coming week we will be doing our Numeracy assessments and as I have a vast range of abilities in my class, we will be doing them in small ability based groups. This is always a nightmare as the rest of the class need to be doing something worthwhile but easy to manage and oversee.

I have developed this simple Gingerbread Counting Snap & Scoot activity to use for the less able in my class to practise basic counting skills and will be using it this week. It's available in my TPT store now but click on the image to grab it for free here!

I introduced these fun Christmas themed games from Games 4 Learning last week and intend on having them run as an independent activity this week- they are straightforward, no fuss and excellent for lots of calculation practise.

Well I hope that has given you some food for thought- if you have or intend on trying out any of the activities mentioned above then please comment bellow and let me know how you get on.

Now to the Sunday Scoop- I love this link-up with the fabulous Teaching Trio
I know I am not the only one stressing that their little lot are going to be 'THAT' class in the Christmas show!!!! 'God loves a trier' and my goodness these kids are trying even my tone deaf patience! Also, apologies for the lack of apostrophe in 'work's'!!! 

I am pretty sure I'm the only teacher left in the UK who hasn't been to watch Nativity 3 yet- I loooooved the first, second er…so so and I'm hearing that I shouldn't bother with the third but I just can't help myself- I will see it before it gets to DVD! 

Who else loves gingerbread at Christmas? It's the smell that fills the house I love most- yum!

Have a super week y'all 

Friday, 5 December 2014

December Currently

OH EM GEE!!! 20 more sleeps people!!! 
Here is my December Currently link-up with the super Farley over at Oh' Boy 4th Grade

Yep… it's that time of year alright…23 out of tune and time 6 year olds trying their best to enthusiastically sing Christmas carols!!! 'Oh dear!' is all I have to say!

If you know me then you'll know I love a candle and Christmas candles are the bees knees! I'm rather picky when it comes to the fragrance so a good cranberry or spiced winter berries candle melts my heart! I am loving walking into my living room at the moment!

Aaagghhhh!! My amazing teaching partner and I always have a sit down and chat about the term to come- our next Learning Challenge theme is 'Journey into Space' and I can't wait- I love looking at the book 'Beegu' by Alexis Deacon- check it out if you haven't already!

I have a wardrobe full of clothes but nothing to wear- you get me, right?

Poor Mr T- he is so freaking hard to buy for!!!!! I'm sure it's just men in general but he is a pain in the backside when it comes to present buying- everything he wants he buys and he isn't into fun tat!!! Underpants and chocolate just doesn't cut it but….thinking caps are working overtime!!

So I'm giving a shout out to my fellow #ukteacherofig paperobsessedteacher she is amazing so go and check out her blog and follow her on IG! Tis the season after all!!

A (very out of date) week of thankfulness…contd.

So…I've been rather slacking in my blogging efforts this week! Ooops!
I'm sure I don't need to explain to all of my fellow 'Super Teachers' out there just how school and home life can become jam-packed and hectic at this time of year but for those of you who are wondering here is a quick run-through of my last 10 days… numerous Christmas play rehearsals, 2 student teachers to observe, support and meet with, organising and going on a class trip to the Santa Express, getting ready for assessment week and the marking that goes with it, organising and delivering a staff meeting, updating policies, cleaning my house from top to bottom, going on an ace girlie weekend trip away, working through the never ending Christmas gift list, collecting items for my SLANTbox partner, decorating the Christmas tree and getting ready for family who are visiting this weekend…oh and just the general teaching and living part of it!!! 

So tonight you lucky people will be subjected to some 'catch-up' blogging action beginning with finishing off my week of thankfulness link-up with Blog Hoppin' 

Over the past few years it has become more and more apparent to me just how lucky I am to live in a beautiful home. My husband and I were unlucky enough to live in a cute little cottage which fell victim to environmental flooding twice in the space of 2 and a half years! We lost many of our possessions and had to move into rented accommodation for months at a time. We eventually move to a house on a hill and can now rest easy whenever it rains! Over the past year I have also sold the house I inherited when my Mother passed away 5 years ago- my home. All of this has lead me to realise that home truly is where you make it and who you share it with- the memories and emotions that tether you to a home still remain even when the location changes.
Is there really anything better than curling up with a good book? Reading is soooo good for the soul! My favourite books include..The Birth of Venus by Sarah Dunant, The Shaddow of the Wind by Carlos Ruiz Zafon and I heart New York by Lindsey Kelk.
I am lucky enough to have a beautiful niece and several gorgeous nephews who light up every moment I spend with them- I don't have any of my own children yet but these gorgeous dudes are truly a blessing. I love how inquisitive and honest children are- especially when you are family! Plus, no-one can spoil a kid the way an Auntie can!
Manners cost nothing and a smile goes a long way but 1 small act of kindness can change a person's whole day! Helping to carry a bag for someone, offering the person in front of you the 10p they are short by, complimenting someone when you know they have worked hard on something…small acts, huge impacts!
I know us British can moan but really… how amazing are the seasons! I love the dependability of them and how amazing it is to watch the world around you change! I mean… sandals, vests and no cardy, skirts and no tights and then BAM scarfs, hats, gloves!! I would hate to live somewhere that was unfortunate enough to have sun all year round..honest!!

Tuesday, 25 November 2014

A week of Thanks...T

This week I am linking up with the lovely people over at Blog Hoppin' and taking part in their week of thanks. Today is....wait for it....dada...T!!!

There are lots of 'T's I am thankful for such as Toast, Tunnock's Teacakes, Teachers, T.V. but most of all I'm simply thankful for Tea!!! I can not function without my first steaming mug full of English Breakfast blend first thing in the morning! Tea does so much for us beyond quenching our thirst and preparing us for the day ahead...let's think about this for a moment... it allows us to have a 'slice of cake' and Afternoon Tea, warms our hands when gloves just won't do, serves as the perfect pick-me-up mid all-day shopping session, comes in cute thimmble-sized cups with (all be it redundant) saucers and allows us to stick our little finger out all posh like. Excuse me if I'm wrong but I just don't think coffee has quite the same life altering traits as good ol' tea!!!

So check back tomorrow for let me think...!!!

Wednesday, 19 November 2014

Wordless Wednesday

I'm linking up with Miss DeCarbo over at
  Second Grade Sugar and Spice for the very first time.
I love looking at the IG post about it so thought I would
join in the fun too!

This week we've been writing in role and became thought bubbles for a lonesome penguin- 
'first person' writing in the words of Gordon Ramsey…. DONE!

How do you teach writing in role? I love teaching it but all tips and tricks are welcome!

Sunday, 16 November 2014

Sunday Scoop

It's that time of the week again people…Sunday night!!! I've just got back in from school after spending 4 hours setting up for our Art Exhibition tomorrow and now I'm faced with my usual Sunday night ritual of lesson planning, printing, laminating, marking and sorting out the weeks outfits! So just before I crack on with it I thought I would give you the scoop on my week by linking up with Teaching Trio again-

I actually don't mind planning and after several years in the same year group I've got at least rough plans for everything but I still hate sitting down to do it on a Sunday…if only I could get it done in my PPA time rather than doing exercise book orders, sorting out phonics groups, cutting out lettering etc…etc!!! The same can also be said for my rapidly expanding pile of marking….oh well the joys of the job!

This weekend my amazing cousin and her friends are hosting a Fabulous Frost Fair and I am head back home to not only do a spot of shopping myself but to man her stall full of 
beautiful personalised photo frames
- visit AJM Creations by clicking here…you never know, you could find the perfect Christmas gift for a special friend or loved one. 

Yes, yes I know it is still November but our Christmas play/ concert is less than 4 weeks away and we have 2 songs just for our class to learn and 3 whole school ones- I think you get the picture!
Now…I love a pamper as much as the next girl and I am fastidious about my tri-weekly nail appointments but for some reason, despite the fact I adore getting my hair done, I never seem to get to the hairdressers every 6 weeks as necessary…in fact I think I'm pushing 4 months since my last visit- oops!

Tomorrow we are having a whole school Art Exhibition inspired by Georgia O'Keeffe and parents are invited in for a coffee morning- I mentioned it in my Five for Friday post also- and today we have been in school getting it all set up…

 I think it's looking pretty good don't you? 

I hope you are all having a successful day- remember, a Sunday well spent brings a week of content, or something like that!

Friday, 14 November 2014

A worn out five for Friday

If you have had 'one of those' weeks then I feel your pain!
I have persisted in doing this post to look for the rainbow...

Holiday, holiday, holiday!!! 
Who's just booked New York for New Year? 
Erm….that would be me!! Central Park Fireworks, The Russian Tea Rooms, ice-skating and The Rockettes Christmas Spectacular here I come! 
AND San Jose, San Fran and Vegas for Easter… oh yeah me too!!!!
 The upsides of having a husband obsessed with WWE (he is 35 everyone!) and going to Wrestlemania twice (this will be our 3rd) is that I get a 2 week road trip holiday in the US of A!!! Also, because he gets to live his dream and drag me along for the ride, I get to pick the route for the rest of the trip!! Woohoooo!  Sorry guys… I'm just a little excited is all!

My egg (see last weeks post) went down a treat- they are all totally convinced that we have a penguin egg in class and with the help of our gorgeous focus text we are going to discover how to care for it when it hatches- watch this space for pics of our school caretaker dressed like an adult penguin ready to care for it should the chick hatching during the night! My room is now Polar Region heaven in honour of the possible penguin! Oh and yes we have divided it in to North (Small World) and South (Investigation Table and Dress Up) regions! 
 I absolutely loooove this book 'The Emperor's Egg' and if you haven't used it yet and work with children from 4-8 then I would totally recommend taking a peak.

Despite my children struggling with multiplication this week, the resources I made for them were a success (as much of a contradiction as this sounds). I themed the work around a number detective named 'Detective Dog' who set them top secret challenges- they were engaged from the get go and never gave up even when it was a challenge for them. I think Monday was a tricky day for us all as I just hadn't thought the steps through carefully enough and rushed through the middle step between using repeated addition for doubling and skip counting… with hindsight the step of using repeated addition for any multiplication definitely needed more than the couple of minutes I gave it so it was revisited on Tuesday!
All was good by Wednesday though and Monday's multiplication madness was soon forgotten! 

This week we have all been preparing our Georgia O'Keeffe inspired artwork for our art exhibition on Monday (a post will follow). As Art co-ordinator (amongst other things!) it is my vision that needs to be executed across the school and I often worry about how successfully I will manage it but know that in the end it always looks impressive. My amazing littlies worked so hard and loved every minute of creating their work. The outcome made us all very proud! On Monday families and friends will be invited in for a coffee morning where they can view all of the amazing work and purchase their child's individual pieces for £1- we focused on Monet last year and it was wonderful!

I am blessed to work with some amazing people- Team KS1 rocked being Teenage Mutant Hero Turtles today- shells and all!
 For those of you who are UK based you will know that today is Children in Need, a day dedicated to raising money for children and young people who truly need it more than us. As a school we always go all out and our parents, many of whom don't have much themselves, are always mega supportive and generous. This year's theme is 'Be a Hero' and it has been lovely to see pics on my IG feed of friends in schools, offices and out and about dressed up. You can imagine that the most common costumes were 'super heroes' but I was also very proud that many of our kids came dressed as doctors, nurses, fire officers, soldiers, their mums and historical figures. So far today our little school has raised nearly £400 and the profits from the art exhibit (refreshments and art sales) on Monday will also be added to that.

Oh and one last thing- its Friday people!!!!!! 
Go forth and smile! 

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