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 H...now 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! 

Sunday, 9 November 2014

Sunday Savings

I will mostly be planning and prepping today for the week ahead and as usual I'm trying to be organised! This is often a struggle for me as I tend to flit from one thing to another- I am most definitely not a 'compleater-finisher'! 

So, in the spirit of being organised, I thought I would start the afternoon off with a Sunday linky! I love the Sunday Savings linky with All Things Apple in 2nd because nothing beats those Sunday night  blues like finding a bargain! 

I've chosen to offer 20% off my Thanksgiving products as a way to help my US friends get organised too! 

As I've been moving along on my TPT/Blog/IG journey, one of the most fun things I've come across and used in my classroom is the 'Scoot' type activities that so many US teachers seem to use. My class love them now and I think it is such a fun, active way for them to engage with a concept rather than simply sitting at a desk doing a worksheet. 

With this in mind I created a simple Thanksgiving themed counting scoot perfect for Kindergarten/ 1st as it deals with counting and recording up to 12 objects.

I love to teach Religious Education (R.E.) and one of the things my children do when we are looking at Christian holidays or beliefs is show their understanding of a new concept by writing or adapting a prayer. Obviously, not all schools go in for this approach so a poem works just as well and what better way to share what you are thankful for than imitating the great Ralph Waldo Emerson- the pack contains a cut and stick scaffolded activity and a free writing activity. 
Grab my Thanksgiving products at 20% off and let me know how you find them- all feedback is welcome

Saturday, 8 November 2014

5 for Friday

I know I'm late but my lovely husband surprised me with a drink after work and then a takeaway which was no good for my blogging but sooooo good for my soul!!
It's been a very busy week here at year2tastic so have a peek at my 
5 for Friday link-up with

We started back with a BANG this week- my bus didn't show up on Monday morning so I was late in to school! Luckily, I was all prepared and set to go with my POW Super Subtractor unit.
We started off as all good Super Heroes must… filling in our application forms and designing our masks to a superhero theme tune CD!
How cute do they look-
The application forms served as a fun pre-assessment which quickly let me know the areas of subtraction I needed to work on.
I already have my POW game available in my TPT store but check out my first TGIF post to grab it for free. All of the Super Subtractor activities I used this week will be available as a bundle in my store this weekend including using partitioning to aid subtraction and BINGO! 
We have loved it and now all of my class can at least use number lines rather than objects to subtract. 

Although my bus didn't turn up on Monday or Tuesday or Wednesday I was thankful that the mornings were lovely and light- those clocks falling back an hour the other week are starting to pay off at last. I know it won't be for long but how gorgeous does this morning look…
I've finally figured out what is going on with the bus and its route has changed so I now have a 10 minute walk to the bus stop rather than just strolling to the end of my road. The outcome of this…I NEED TO DRIVE!!!!!

I'm having 2 student teachers in my class this month and they started their pre-block days this week. They are very polite, eager and friendly with the children so I know they are going to do well but does anyone else find it tiering having students in? I essentially had to be on 'top form' for 3 day in a row which takes it's toll on everyone in the class and it began to show on Thursday- most of the children had been up late watching fireworks the night before, then the children had a wet play time so were a mixture of hyper and growly, I felt like I was rushing around trying to catch my tail all day- not the best 'shining example' of how to be a cool, calm and collected teacher but hey…welcome to the real world!

So after feeling like I had failed all day I made my way to the bus station via Costa Coffe and bagged myself a Gingerbread latte to go…..and I got a Christmas cup!!! Woohoo!! 
As I've mentioned on my 'Meet the Teacher' I love this time of year. I adore all of the celebrations and in order to honour each one I refuse to start my Christmas shopping and planning until Bonfire Night is over. So here I was on November 6th with my first Christmas cup, I scooped up a Christmas mag, popped on Christmas24 and indulged! Bliss!

We began our new Learning Challenge this week (it is one of my faves) and the children got stuck right in sharing their ideas and knowledge about 'What is it like at the Polar Regions' 
I absolutely loved how many of them put on that Santa and his elves live in the North Pole- too right! 
One of the best moments in this LC are when they come into class to discover the WOW hook- a large egg on the classroom floor! We spend the lesson making predictions and trying to figure out how it may have got to our classroom. Little do they know that this is how it started out…
Welcome to my weekend of making a paper mache egg!

Tuesday, 4 November 2014

The 3 F's of Phonics

I love phonics… in fact, I'm a phonics geek! I love teaching it but I know it is a subject some of my colleagues loath to teach! So if you are more of a loather than a lover then this is the place for you!

In my role as a Specialist Leader in Education I get to indulge my geek-like ways and deliver training sessions to a group of nervous and inexperienced student teachers. There are 3 key words I beg them to, if nothing else, remember about phonics...


FAST- try and keep the pace of children's new learning snappy. Letters and Sounds suggests that a set of sounds (roughly 4 per set) are taught a week and I totally see how this works. After 1 week of phonics (provided each section of the session is taught daily) it is amazing just how many words and sentences most children can at least try to read! What a confidence boost!
Agghhh disclaimer- I am all for children learning at their own pace and totally see how some children are not suited to this set up, let alone phonics full stop and I am by no means advocating phonics as the only teaching method for reading nor am I suggesting L&S is the scheme to follow/ use it just happens to be the one I do- just so you know!

FUN- this is the whole reason I love phonics- IT IS FUN!!! If you can have a giggle with it then the children will too- my top 3 activities are
  • 'Freddy (insert any puppet name here) Says' perfect for practising those oral blending skills. The puppet whispers an instruction in your ear and you orally segment it for the children who then blend it silently and follow 'Simon Says' style- I use short instructions such as 'Freddy says clap/ smile/ wave/ sit up' and only give the children about 5 instructions to keep this section snappy and fun. 
  • Silly Soup- you can play this in a variety of ways e.g. rhyming words or initial sounds but I continue to use this game at phase 3 to introduce new sounds. I love children to latch their new sound onto a familiar object as it overcomes any pronunciation issues and instantly makes them feel as though they know the sound already. To play Silly Soup you need a bowl, spoon and a range of ingredients which do and do not match the days sound. Pull one 'ingredient' out at a time and the children decide if it can or cannot go in the soup e.g. 'sh' may have a shoe, shark and ship in it. Those ingredients which did not contain the sound remain out of the soup- the children love to stir the soup and have a taste of it!
  • Singing the alphabet- as corny as it sounds we love it! My group adore this silly monkey version and my colleague even has her group up doing a rap with dance moves. I think it is vital that they know the letter names before moving on to phase 5 where they will encounter all of those horrible alternative spellings of sounds the English language so kindly insists 6 year olds learn so why not make this most mundane of tasks fun and move beyond the common 'now I know my ABC' version.
FREQUENT- try and build in a short (20 mins) phonics session every day and ensure you spend some time in each session revisiting the sounds they have already learnt to ensure they are not forgotten. I'm always conscious to point out that whilst most schools teach phonics discretely it also needs to form a part of the wider Literacy curriculum and you need to remember to draw the children's attention to using their phonics knowledge when reading and writing outside of those 20 mins. This includes lots of teacher modelling so get 'phonicy' people!

Let's hear it for phonics- yay!

Sunday, 2 November 2014

November 'Currently'

Well guys I aimed for the 1st but didn't quite make it! Still… a day late is better than never! Here is my November Currently link up with Farley over at Oh' Boy 4th Grade-
I'm so pleased it's November as I adore Bonfire Night and once November 5th is out of the way I will well and truly start my Christmas prep.

I love X Factor but have to admit that half the people on it ruin amazing songs week in week, out and yet I still watch it!

I received an amazing SLANT box from the lovely Brittany at Tickled Pink in Primary.
I love everything and can't wait to sign up again. 
If you fancy taking part then head over to Jameson's blog Lessons With Coffee and read all about it. 

Our Learning Challenge this Half Term is 'What is it like at the Polar Regions?' and we are using the amazing 'The Emperor's Egg' by Martin Jenkins as our focus text. We like our Guided Reading texts to link in with the rest of the curriculum and allow the children to gather further ideas and information to connect with their wider learning. Unfortunately we don't have many texts about Polar Regions or animals that can be found at the Poles to use so if you have any recommendations then please leave a comment.

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