Tuesday, 22 December 2015

Welcome to 2016….well, almost!

Welcome to 2016…..well, almost! 

I know, I know!!!! We haven't even had Christmas yet but seeing as I fly off to Las Vegas for NYE (big whoop!) this year I know I won't have time to sort out my first day back in the downtime between Christmas and school starting again (oh poor me!).

I love my classroom during the run-up to Christmas but once all of those gorgeous cards and colourful calendars have been sent home and the tinsel is packed away, it looks a little sad and empty and I feel a little lost!
Luckily, I planned ahead and took some NYE themed photo booth pictures of my class ready to peg up  to overcome the miserableness of bare-walls syndrome and to kind of make me feel organised!! 

Obviously there is far more to the job of a teacher than making the walls pretty but….!

How do you approach the first day back with your class? Do you launch yourselves straight back into the routine? Do you take it easy and play a little fast and loose with the time-table? 
Me, I like to strike it somewhere in the middle. 
We're all tired (yes I mean WE ME!) and struggling with the sugar withdrawals but I'm also highly aware that every moment is a vital learning opportunity. 

Yes I am that mean teacher who likes to get them straight back into the habit of writing!

On the first day back I like to run some 'circle-time' type activities and give the children a chance to share what they have been doing over their time off- I learn an awful lot about them during these chats! 

We like to reflect on the year just gone and remember all of the fun we had in class- 

You can click here to snag yourself a copy from my TpT store! 
I love using these activities with the children as they celebrate all of the positives and the sense of community our class shared before the Christmas break. 

After we have had our morning snack and are feeling refuelled and energised I then like to introduce some more focused written work. 

This year I will be getting my children ready for the hard work ahead by making wishes and thinking of achievable goals. 

I don't want them to simply set a goal but also explain why they want to achieve it, what it will mean to them and how they will get there. 

Do you encourage your children to goal set? How do you go about it? 
I'd love to hear your plans for the first day back...

Saturday, 19 December 2015

Global Glitter December Linky

Can I get an Amen for Christmas break?! 
We finished on Thursday and I know I don't have to tell you how much I was loving that lie-in yesterday morning!!!!

I just don't know where this year has gone- time seems to be slipping through my fingers at the moment! I can't believe the next time I link up with Global Glitter Tribe it will be 2016!!! WOW!

And on that note I bring you the December Global Glitter Tribe Linky- yes I know it feels like you've only just read the November one but trust me, that was a whole month ago! 
As you know, along with Myranda from Keep Calm and Teach 5th Grade, I am one of the founders of the Global Glitter Tribe and I couldn't be prouder than I am right now of all of our amazing Glitterati and fellow Blog Editors- please take a moment to visit the 'Meet Us' section of our blog and check out just who is involved in this awesome adventure with us! 

I have to say, I am loving Myranda's graphic for this month's link, is has a festive feel and I have 
loved taking part…

Staple Recipe
Growing up I didn't get to eat much chicken as my mother was scared of birds so refused to cook them. When I did get to have it, it was usually in some preprepared form such as a Kiev so as an adult I have made a whole roast chicken one of my go-to kitchen favourites. I stuff the cavity with a whole lemon (stab it a couple of times first and pop it in the microwave for 20 seconds) and several sprigs of fresh thyme. I then cover the chicken in a mix of olive oil and lard to ensure a crispy skin, crack plenty of sea salt and fresh black pepper over the top and break off thyme leaves and sprinkle them on too. I place the chicken on a trivet of potatoes, onions, parsnips and garlic to stop it from sticking and ensure it cooks all of the way through- the onion and garlic along with the thyme and lemon really flavour the juices and add to the perfect gravy! 
To find out what I do with the left over chicken then read my 
blog post over at Confessions of a Try-hard

Holiday Read Aloud Favourites
I know there are lots of classics out there such as 'The Polar Express' but my favourite read aloud at this time of year comes with a slightly sad undertone yet heart warming message- 
You can get your very own copy of 'The Snowchild' by Debi Gliori by clicking on the picture below 
Amazon's synopsis reads…
Poor left-out Katie doesn't know how to play. She has lots of good ideas - but she's always out of step with the other children's games. Then, one winter's morning, Katie wakes up and decides to build a snowman… Debi Gliori's charming story of Katie's Snowchild and the friendship it brings will warm the heart of every young reader.
Integrated Technology 
We are lucky enough to have a set of 25 iPads between 3 classes at my school. As they are often in demand, it is sometimes hard to get 1:1 but it is usually possible to get 1:2. One of my favourite apps to use in this situation or even in 1:1 or small group situations is 'Tag Cloud'- it is a free, user-friendly 'Wordal' type app and it is great for collecting descriptive language and thought showers on. 
Children can alter how the text is presented too- in the example above, each group had a different animal, they had to each type in a descriptive word and then agree on the layout. Based on the word choices and layout, the rest of the class then had to guess which animal the Tag Cloud was for- great lesson on making appropriate choices. My children are 6 and 7 and it is so easy for them to use- I'm sure there are a million and 1 ways to use this app and I feel like I'm only just scratching the surface. 

New Find
Prosecco crisps (or chips to my US friends) are Ah.May.Zing!!!! There are lots of different versions out there but I am loving the Marks and Spencer version the best- they even have cute little gold stars on them! Perfect festive indulgence!

Engaging Books
Egg Drop? The Pea and the Princess? Traction Man? Toys in Space? Biscuit Bear?
No…? Where have you been and what have you been reading to your children? 
All of these Mini Grey books are fabulous and next term I get to explore Biscuit Bear with my children again- it will be the 3rd time I've taught using it and every time I get more and more excited!
 Mini Grey's books are jam-packed with amazing teaching points and fantastic images. If you haven't used one with your class yet then I suggest you get yourself to the nearest bookshop and buy one- they are perfectly suitable for children from 5- 9 and I bet you could still keep the attention of 11 year olds with some of these beautifully written books. 

Snow Day Plans
We don't generally get snow days here where I live but in the days until Christmas Eve, when I am home-alone and relaxing, I love to snuggle up on the sofa with a steaming hot cup of tea in a festive mug and watch the Christmas 24 channel all day! It is fair to say that the likelihood of me still being in my Christmas themed PJs is also high! I get to unwind and feel festive all at the same time- how about you?

Don't forget that you too can link-up by following the link below to the Global Glitter Tribe and simply downloading the graphic- we would love to have you!

Saturday, 12 December 2015

'Twas the week before Christmas break….5 teacher tips and treats to see you through! Xx

Worn out? Check! 
 'Comfy' clothes for school? Check! 
Desk a mess? Check! 
'To-do' list a mile long? Check! 
Glitter in unmentionable places? Check! 
In need of a spa day? Check! 

This can only mean 1 thing……it must be the week before Christmas break! 

Teacher-wellness at this time of year is very important so, in order to help you to take a moment for yourself and get into the festive spirit too I've complied a little list of teacher tips and treats...

School- have all cards, calendars and decorations made ready to be sent home at the end of the day to avoid that last minute panic!
Home- indulge in a minced pie whilst taking 5 minutes to enjoy the twinkling christmas lights on your tree.
Treat- Scholastic Voucher Codes and Discounts for December
Click here

School- double check all assessments are done and get that data handed in (if you haven't already) so you're not sat on Thursday night still compiling it!
Home- take a hot bubble bath to some festive tunes!
Treat- Paperchase- Treat Me

School- colouring in is therapeutic- let the kids doodle away to some festive tunes while you make sure you've got any paper work ready for those who need it and you've got the photocopying done for the first day back in January- I know this seems early but you'll thank me later!
Home- get in the festive mood with a Christmas film and a few chocolates!
Treat- Bodyshop- Voucher Cloud deals for December click here

School- take down the festive displays and get the boards backed ready for the first week- there's nothing worse than realising you still have all of your festive stuff up when you just want to go home on the last day!
Home- Prep a tasty meal to have when you get in from work tomorrow- you deserve a feet up end to the Autumn term!
Treat- Dorothy Perkins- Voucher Cloud deals for December click here

School- let the kids watch a DVD and take some time to file any paper work, tidy your desk and do some general housekeeping- you will not be wanting to do this once the bell has gone- trust me!
Home- Glass of wine? Hot chocolate? You decide- it's officially the holidays!!!!!! Celebrate!
Treat- Photobox- Hot UK Deals codes for December click here

And to help you stop getting snowed under and keep your Christmas cheer I've made a little checklist for you to use-

Have a wonderful last week of school- let's make it a stress-free one!

Sunday, 6 December 2015

Festive Freebies and Dollar Steals!

As I am sure you are well aware by now, I am part of the Global Glitter Tribe and we are currently hosting a 12 Days of Giving link-up. 
I know that at this point in the term both myself and my class are worn out! We are ready for the break to arrive and, seeing as it is the season and all, at Global Glitter Tribe we figured what better way to support each other than to share some amazing and FREE products which may just help you survive the next couple of weeks!

There are freebies galore, link-ups to read and a give-away to enter!
Click here to visit and snag some goodies yourself!

This got me thinking- what lovely festive freebies do I have in my store?
This 'Winter Warmer: Addition and Subtraction Word Problem' task card set is a MUST! 

Not allowed to use Christmas themed products? Have children who don't celebrate Christmas? 
Don't worry- this product is totally winter themed and includes items such as snowflakes, hot chocolate, scarves and snowmen in it's word problems rather than Santa, trees and gifts!

My Easter version of this forever freebie snagged over 300 downloads in its first day! 

Of course I couldn't blog without mentioning my part in the 'Holidays Around the World' collaborative product from the Global Glitter Tribe- 

It is a forever freebie and features products to support the teaching of Christmas in the UK and New Mexico, Hanukah and New Years! 
This is my contribution- 
Snag your free copy by visiting my TpT page

Although these aren't freebies, they are $1 steals and rather fantastic (even if I do say so myself!)

So….got a seasonal freebie? Why not head to the Global Glitter Tribe now and link up your product or blog post?! 

Monday, 30 November 2015

Is your wish-list ready for the sale?

Just incase it is news to you- TpT are having a site wide sale running through this Monday and Tuesday! Everything, and I mean EVERYTHING in my store will be 20% off and if you use the (ever so kindly offered) promo code from TpT then it will bump your saving up to 28%!!!!!! 
How could you resist?!

My only problem with sales is, as a buyer, I often become 'sales blind' you know what I mean…. panic sets in, you want everything in sight and you really can't remember what it is you actually need- the savings are just too good!!! You want EVERYTHING!!!! 

So, to help you out, the lovely Jen over at Teaching in the Tongass is hosting a super-great link-up where us sellers are listing their top wish-listed items- something you, as buyers, don't usually get a peek at! 
Click any of the photos to visit them in my store…

I love to theme my Numeracy lessons and made this product last year to fit in with our Superhero week. Super Subtractor flew in to recruit some side-kicks and set them lots of challenges along the way! 

This product gets children applying their addition and subtraction skills to 20 or 50 in a fun and engaging way! 
It is perfectly suited to children working at a 1st, 2nd or even 3rd Grade level. 

Although there are separate addition and subtraction games in this pack, because the children are working with running totals, they have to use both skills which is an added bonus!

To find out how it worked out in another teachers classroom, visit the lovely Ashley over at Anchored in Learning to read her blog post all about their Superhero Math activity using my Superhero Addition and Subtraction Games

This is by far one of my top sellers and one of the products I use in my own classroom the most!
I teach Year 2- the UK equivalent to 1st Grade so anything which gives my little ones a fighting chance at remembering something is a winner with me! 
This simple mnemonic for remembering a problem solving method is straight forward and easy to apply. 
This poster pack features prompts to remember what each letter stands for as well as an example of each step being applied to a word problem- 
This handy pack is usually $1 so just think how little it will cost you in the sale!
Click here to add it to your wish list now! 

This was my first ever bundle and I was so proud when I posted it!
Here's why…
QR Codes? CHECK, 
Scoot? CHECK, 
Quarter past AND quarter to? CHECK, 
Digital and Analogue? CHECK!
This bundle has it all!!! 

This 34 page bundle can be used as single, stand alone activities or, because of the differentiation on offer, a series of lessons. 

I'm not surprised it is wish listed so many times but if you are in any doubt then you could download my Time-tastic Task Cards for FREE by snagging my Featured Freebie here.

To find out what other sellers top wish-listed items are or to link up yourself then click on the picture below to take you back to Jen's original post.

Me? I'm off to wish-list some of the amazing products I've just found out about…happy sale and don't forget to SMILE!

Saturday, 28 November 2015

Global Glitter Tribe November Link-up

By now you should know that I am a loud and proud member of the Global Glitter Tribe! If you don't know what we are all about then click here to visit our fantastic blog full of ideas and inspiration for teaching 'Global Thinking' and developing your children in 'Global Citizens'. 

This month's link-up has made me stop and think which I love! It is so easy to get swept up in the fuss and stress that this time of year brings so taking a moment out to reflect is a delicious treat-

I live several hours away from all of my family which is something I hate! I have to embrace the fact that I live in a beautiful place, have an amazing husband and friends and a job I love but I would move home in a flash just to be close to my family who are truly my best friends too! 
Any chance I get to go home and visit I jump at- I feel grounded and totally myself when I am with them. These are the people who helped to shape me into the person I am today and I couldn't love them more. 
My totally BFF and big cousin Ali is extremely talented. Not only is she a great artist and crafts person but she is also a fantastic business woman too. Along with 2 of her friends she puts on an annual festive fair which celebrates and supports local, independent businesses. I had the privilege of attending and supporting her this past weekend- 

As a school we made a conscious decision to structure our curriculum so that children spend time embracing and developing their understanding of their local area before spiralling their learning out to our country and then the wider world. During every spiral of learning the other 2 elements are brought in and applied for example during this term we have found out about where food comes from so visited a local farm and harvested and tasted locally produced food but then also explored the journey of food and where in the world our food comes from as well as looking at Fair Trade.
We work on a 2 year rolling program but here is an overview of how our spiral will look this year-
Autumn Term- Food (local produce and global)
Homes (our local area and castles around the country)
Spring Term- London (the geography and history of our capital city)
Baking- (national favourites and food from around the world)
Summer Term- Africa (culture and wildlife of another countries compared to ours)
Sea Life (Whales around the world)

This is not a new idea and by no means an original of mine but I love my Table Tubs-
To find out more, visit my previous blog post here.

Broad Perspectives 
As a school we are committed to developing our children into citizens who are able to make positive contributions to society. We call ourselves a team and the children in my classroom are not only part of our school team but our classroom team also. 
I encourage my children to recognise that they are all responsible for their choices and how they affect others in our team. We win points for our table teams and prizes are awarded weekly and we also win 'Rainbow Drops' for good class teamwork and rewards are usually earned half termly which results into a whole class celebration. 
Our aim is that our school community and the way our children behave within it mirrors their behaviours in the wider community and that their contributions to both are positive ones. 

I love teaching art and last half term we did one of my favourite projects ever! 
We look at how food is represented in art and the concept of still life. 
We then look at and discuss the work of Giuseppe Acrimboldo and then recreate it using food (the food has already been used for tasting and will be used for creating prints too) 
Let's Chat
I am one of the co-hosts of the Global Edventures Blab Show and I would love to hear your ideas for future topics so please feel free to comment below with suggestions- after all #2getherwearebetter

To link-up with Global Glitter Tribe yourself then visit us here and download your own graphic

Sunday, 22 November 2015

Five for Friday

I'm sure that, by now, you know how much I love this link-up with Doodle Bugs Teaching!

Here's my reflection on the week just gone and boy, did it go by in a flash!

This week I was introduced to Voxer!!!

Now, I'm sure that many of you are already familiar with this walkie-talkie 'whatsapp' style apication but I don't have any UK contacts who use it so it was all brand spanking new to me!!! 
Needless to say- I LOVE IT!!! 
Yes I can natter away to my lovely US, Canadian and New Zealander friends but I also love 
how we have used it with our classes!!! 

Erin over at Learning to be Awesome and I have exchanged voice memos wishing our respective classes a fabulous day and asking them to guess from our accents where we are from- my class thought that Erin was from the North Pole as she mentioned our new class visitor (more about that in a moment) in  her message. 
Since these initial intros, we've also had messages with children from Erin's class sharing facts about New Zealand and asking my children questions which we will respond to on Monday! 
How awesome is that? Free, easy and no worrying over children being on camera!!! 

So onto our little visitor…
Yesterday a very cold parcel arrived in class with some fancy writing on the front- we opened it up and inside was our class elf!!!
My little 6 & 7 year olds were beside themselves!!!!
As we read the story we discussed names and I used a graphic to figure out what our
elf names would be…
This gave us all a good giggle and provided us with lots of ideas!

We came up with suggestions and then voted- our elf is Merry Happyfeet or just Merry to those who
know him well!!!!
Do you use Elf on the Shelf with your class? Check out my Pinterest board for ideas…
year2tastic Christmas

 I've been wanting some kind of class media account for a while and seeing as our school has a Twitter account I figured this would maybe be the easiest and most accessible option. 
I spoke to our head teacher and got the green light- it is a private Twitter account meaning that I have to approve all followers and that our tweets can not be retweeted- I think this is a much safer and reassuring option that Facebook! 

We are going to have a 'tweeter of the day' who decides what we will tweet and will get to type it out! The arrival of our class elf is a perfect way to start our journey into the world of Twitter and provided us with our first tweet-

Do you use any form of social media with your class?
 Do you have any tips for me? 

And on the theme of Twitter- I taught my children all about hashtags this week!!!! 
We looked at a from cover and made evidence based predictions. As we had discussed that hashtags are used to lead people to a range of information about the same subject then no random predictions were allowed!!!
Of course I had to teach them how to make a hashtag with their fingers too…

This weekend I have been blessed enough to spend time with my amazing family! I live several hours away from all of my aunties and cousins not to mention my sister, niece and nephew! I travelled down in time to meet my sister for a festive mulled wine and I got to go with her to pick my niece up from school- her face when she saw me was priceless!
Me and my lovely little sis Xx
My very talented best friend, who just so happens to be my cousin too, organises the
  Fabulous Frost Fair every year which promotes local small businesses and charities- it is the perfect time to get your Christmas groove on and buy some unique gifts!
I got to go to the VIP night this year with some of my aunties and another cousin- sipping prosseco and shopping makes for a very happy Laura!

I'm totally in the Christmas mood now- how about you? 

Sunday, 15 November 2015

Phonics- Top 3 Tips & Tweaks

As you may know I'm a bit of a Phonics geek and I love finding new ways to spice up my lessons.
We follow Letters and Sounds at our school and I love the freedom it affords.
 I live by the 'Fast, Fun and Frequent' approach to my sessions and like to get the kids up and moving as much as possible.

In this post I've included 3 top tips or tweaks you might want to use to add a bit of pizzaz to your sessions too! 

As we all know one of the most valuable parts of a Phonics session is the 'Apply' part. It gives the children a glimpse into how they will actually use these skills in real life and show them that they CAN read! 

With my group, children who are needing more practise at Phase 2, tracking the text as they read is a big issue. Using text trackers (or partner pointers if they are reading in a pair) has given this key skill a massive boost. 
Yes they all have fingers but these are just so much more fun!

Fly swatters have added a great fun twist to my Phonics. 
Buy 2 for £1 in the pound shop and give your 'Revisit and Review' section a makeover too! 

I like to put the grapheme cards in the middle of a circle, have 1 kiddie shout out a sound and the children with the swatters have to race to splat it! This can be used when reading tricky words, practising blending or even applying their reading skills. 
To ensure maximum participation I split my group into 2 and use 4 swatters. 

I'm a firm believer that before a child can blend and segment using written sounds, they need to be able to do it orally. I adore teaching these skills using my little friend 'Freddy'. Freddy can only 'sound-talk' and so he whispers his instructions to me, I sound-talk them to my little friends and they blend the sounds to follow the instruction- it's lots of fun, active and an invaluable step.
 My puppet friend can also work in reverse- the children have to sound-talk to give him an instruction! Perfect! 

If you don't fancy using a puppet, why not try my 'Daisy says….' set to practise those all important blending skills too! 

Please let me know if you try out any of these ideas in your Phonics and how you got on.

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