Friday, 31 October 2014

TGIF # 1

So I thought I would make my first TGIF twist post about a resource I have used in the past.

I have mentioned before that I like my kiddies to apply their mathematical learning in fun and hands on ways. We love games in our class and particularly ones where I can get them to do lots of calculations quickly without noticing.

One game which has proven popular in the past is my POW game. The game gets children to keep running totals and we usually use a whiteboard and number line to aid our working out.

Up until now it has just been a black and white board game created on Word with a 'SmartArt' style spiky shape with the word POW in it. 'There's nothing wrong with that!' you might say but to be honest, it's looking a little sad and tired against all of my new, jazzy TPT purchases!

Well… last night I purchased the gorgeous 'Superheroes Clipart' from Glitter Meets Glue Designs and gave my game a new sparkling look!

I love it- what do you think?
You can download it for free by clicking here- it retails in my TPT store  (year2tastic) for $2.50 why not pay me a visit and take a look at the rest of my POW resources.

Until next week...

Thursday, 30 October 2014

The start of the new TGIF

Teachers Get Inspired Friday
Well... after a week off school (who am I kidding right?!) you would think I would be feeling refreshed and ready to go again but in truth it feels like I've blinked and missed this holiday! I'm most certainly not complaining that I've just had a week off but I never seem to be able to totally relax and switch off- I know I am not the only one!

So it was along this line that I decided I would start a TGIF post with a twist.

I will blog about something I have refreshed or found new inspiration in at some point across the week. It could be an old jumper given a cute new look with a scarf or a teaching resource given a new lease of life- hey if I can't get that glowing 'well rested' look and feel then maybe I can give something a helping hand towards a new lease of life and give you guys a little TGIF along the way!

Check back tomorrow to find out just what got the TGIF treatment this week.

(Cute image thanks to design elements from Sonya Dehart Design)

Sunday, 26 October 2014

Sunday Savings

Well I most certainly don't have the usual 'Sunday night feeling' (woohoo for Half Term!). I am currently snuggled up on the sofa after stuffing my face with our first roast dinner of the season, watching 'The Goonies' and looking forward to a lie-in tomorrow! 

To celebrate I have chosen to link up with the lovely Nicole over at 'All Things Apple in 2nd' for the 'Sunday Savings Circular'. 

I've had my TPT store (click here) since August and business is slow- my free items are getting plenty of downloads but my paid for ones aren't - any feedback about pricing or general advise would be great!
I'm sticking with it though and loving thinking of new ideas to make and post.  

I'm loving my latest product 'Batter Up! Bonds to 10' ($1) so for every purchase at 20% off 
I'll send it to you as a free bonus! 
Here's a sneak peak…

Friday, 24 October 2014

Camp Learn A Lot

As a Key Stage we had been teaching thematically long before the new curriculum came in but to help embed this approach across the school we have taken on the Focus Challenge Curriculum as an anchor for our planning. I love the way it is enquiry led and the children have so much input into shaping their own learning. This half term our 'BIG question' has been 'What's at the bottom of the garden?' and each week we have been giving the children a Learning Challenge question to explore. My wonderful KS teaching partner (she has year 1 but we teach the same themes on a 2 year rolling programme) and myself phrased the questions so the children could make links between their Literacy text and the other areas of the curriculum. Our gorgeous focus text for this half term has been the fantastic 'King of Tiny Things' by Jeanne Willis- it has had my children spell bound and they have produced some of their best writing so far. In the book (spoiler!) the children camp out in the garden and, as the weather had taken a down turn compared to earlier in the term, I thought it would be fun to camp out in class!
Bring on Camp Learn A Lot!

The key elements to Camp Learn A Lot were the fire in the den (made from twigs, tissue, crape paper and stones!), tent in the Imaginarium and sleeping bags and torches at the desks. They came into class on Monday to a darkened room lit by electronic candles and camping lamps- it was simple to set the scene and the children totally bought into it! 

Every child in my class was desperate to read by torch light, snuggled in sleeping bags or huddled in the tent. If you have a class of reluctant readers then I strongly suggest trying this out to engage and enthuse them, particularly the boys!

I decided that I would keep the momentum going and spiral our theme out into Numeracy too. I don't like to give the children more than 1 work sheet per week and  prefer them to play games, use whiteboards or explore using concrete and real life situations as much as possible. Camp Learn A Lot lent it's self perfectly to my approach and gave me plenty of fun and cheep resources to use. We used conkers, leaves and sticks we collected as maths manipulatives to aid working out.

We have spent the first 5 full weeks of term focused on 'Knowing and Understanding Number' so I was confident that the children had a solid understanding of place value and were ready to move onto 'Calculation'. 
My main aims were that children-
MUST be able to add 2 1 digit number together
SHOULD be able to add 1 digit and a 2 digit numbers together (not crossing a 10 initially but extending into this)
COULD be able to add 2 2 digit numbers together (extending into totals over 100)

As I wanted the activities to continue to be engaging and themed I prepared 1 and 2 digit pebbles  for my Must (pushing them into the Should) to use to generate addition calculations totalling below 30. My Should activity took place in our Den huddled around the Camp Fire. I made marshmallows out of craft foam and the children placed a white (1 digit) and pink (2 digit) along with operation symbols on a twig  covered in velcro. 

My top ability children were on 'leaf collecting duty' and loved collecting the leaves from the 'Camp Site' and adding them together- I introduced them to partitioning as an addition method. The time investment in Place Value paid off and they grasped the method easily! 
In their afternoon choosing time they were even teaching it to their friends! 
I gave each child a colour leaf to 'collect' and I ensured that no matter which 2 leaves they put together they would not total more than 100. Once they were mega confident (which took all of 5 minutes input and a few independent practises) I introduced the brown leaves and asked them to 'collect' one of their leaves and a brown leaf so that they could explore what to do when a calculation would take them into 3 digit numbers.

At the end of the week we took our kiddies on a 4 mile round walk to the local park- it has huge oak trees, sycamores, horse- chestnuts and even a few maples! It was perfect to introduce our final LC question 'Why are there so many leaves on the floor?'.
In groups we explored the ground and collected our findings! It was amazing seeing the children just being children and learning along the way. They made links in their learning at lightning speed, bounced ideas off each other and came up with some fantastic observations!
When we got back to school we emptied our findings out on the carpet and explored! The children sorted the leaves in a variety of ways and made repeating patterns- all without prompting! 
It was such a practical and relatable task for them to apply their mathematical learning in that they couldn't resist!

Once the children had independently explored the leaves and seeds we once again looked at our LC question 'Why are there so many leaves on the ground?'. We discussed the weather and how it was dark in the morning and the children began to think about the changing seasons. After our discussion I left them to discuss the question and allowed them to explore the leaves further, encouraging them to look closely.
With minimal teacher input, their little minds made the links and decided that the seasons had a hand to play because it was getting colder and the leaves looked old and dead where as in spring they were green and growing. They also noticed that not all trees (linked with Christmas Trees) lost their leaves so decided that there must be more than 1 type of tree (quite advanced thinking I thought!). It was amazing to listen to!

So what to do with an abundance of leaves?
I demonstrated how to take a leaf print and based on their reaction I am wasted as a teacher- clearly I should be a magician! They couldn't wait to get started and one of them said 'You asked us last week who had captured the beauty of plants and now the answer is us!'- don't you just love that?!
We have absolutely loved our  week at Camp Learn A Lot and I hope you have maybe read a few things that have sparked an idea.
If you have a go at your very own Camp Learn A Lot then please let me know how you get on.
If you only take on thing from this post then I would love it be to that you will check out the books  of Jeanne Willis! They are awesome!

Catch you soon

Sunday, 19 October 2014

Instagram Milestone Giveaway!

Here it is guys!
I'm so proud to have lots of support from the super IG and TpT community- take a look at the awesome prizes to be won

Our winner was the lovely Instagram teacher smurray524 go follow her!

WOW! I'm so excited to be holding my very first give away and I have got some fabulous ladies on board to make sure it is an awesome prize!!! 
Prize details and how to enter will be posted shortly but until then
go and check out these fab sellers over on TpT or their blog by clicking on the buttons bellow-

Friday, 17 October 2014

Five for Friday

Wow!!! I can't believe how long this week has felt! I am usually found exclaiming 'OMG I can't believe it is the weekend already!' but this week has d.r.a.gged!! It's all good though- I've loved almost every moment of it!

I'm very excited to reflect on the highs of the past 5 days with my very first 'Five for Friday' link-up!

So here goes…
My week was off to a super start because the beautiful flowers my co- KS1 teacher had bought me were still looking beautiful. So, even on a Monday where I had a lot of SLT things to do, I set off for work smiling! 

I had a formal observation this week and, of course, the internet was down!!! Luckily I was able to move things around and my kiddies loved using the resources I had made. We were right in the middle of our 'Camp Learn - a- Lot' unit of work- the children loved it! I will be blogging more about it this weekend so keep your eyes peeled! 

We're coming to the end of our first Learning Challenge and we are loving using the Focus Education approach to teaching our Themes. This half term we have been discovering 'What's down at the bottom of the garden?' as our BIG question. My kiddies astounded me with their artistic flair in response to this week's Learning Challenge- 'Who has captured the beauty of plants?'.
This is one of my mini van Gogh's interpretation of  his sunflowers 

So... my useless computers actually worked this week and in their independent learning time some of my kiddies did me proud and made up their own version of The Gruffalo- speech bubbles, text, gorgeous illustrations- the lot!!! I love to see them using the areas to further their learning and not just for play. Don't get me wrong- I'm all for learning through play but this just shows me what self aware and self motivated little people I have the privilege to help guide. 

Today we set off on a 4+ mile round trip to the park- walking- 43 children- no toilets- main road- WE SMASHED IT!! 
At the park we began to think about our final Learning Challenge 'Why are there so many leaves on the floor?' and their pre- knowledge and predicting was amazing! They bounced ideas off each other so quickly I almost couldn't keep up and they made some super links to other LC's! Perfect!
 The best part of the morning though was getting to watch their little faces as they rummaged through the leaves and discovered conkers and acorns galore!!! It was lovely to see children just being children and learning so much along the way.
I love this pic- 'It's bigger than my head!' he exclaimed!! 
And to top off a pretty busy but awesome week I've also set up this thing- my teacher blog- and snagged myself a pretty gorgeous blog design from the lovely Lindsey over at L Paull Designs - If you are wanting to give your blog a bit of pizzaz then defo pay her a visit!

Have an awesome weekend lovelies 

Thursday, 16 October 2014

October 'Currently'

I can't believe how far through October we are- only 1 more week left until our Half Term break- keep strong, we can do this! 

So I know this seems late but I've had this over on my other blog (shhhh don't let year2tastic hear you!) for the last couple of weeks and thought it would make the perfect first post here as I get to link-up with the amazing Farley and lots of other lovely teacher bloggers- have you linked up? Let me know your blog address- I'd love to check your post out! 


Hum… did anyone hear me mention that I got a Cath Kidston voucher for my Birthday? No… I didn't think I'd mentioned it! The Hubster in all his awesomeness got me a voucher for my Birthday- lovely of him you may say…and indeed the email was!!! Yep you read that right… the EMAIL!!! Not only did I have nothing but the email to open on one of my most favourite days of the whole entire year but I also didn't get my card until the next morning!!! I did, however, have an amazing, relaxing and very tasty day with my beloved husband so I can't complain (too loudly!)

Anyway- enough about my treat… here is the one I promised you guys. Just click on the link in blue below and save to use as an extra spooktastic desktop for the Halloween week- here's hoping it will keep me organised! Let me know how it works for you. 


(Credit where credit is due- thanks to TeacherKarma and StripedElephants for their mega cute clip art) 

Wednesday, 15 October 2014

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