Friday, 29 May 2015

Five for Friday

I can not believe it is Friday already and our week off school is almost at an end- weep! 
I'm reflecting on an awesome half-term by linking up with Doodle Bugs Teaching for the weekly 'Five for Friday' linky.
My half-term kicked off with a weekend away to celebrate our 6th wedding anniversary. Although I am from near Liverpool, I am very lucky to live in the beautiful Lake District and more notably in the town where William Wordsworth was born- 

One of my absolute favourite places in the world is the place where he lived and wrote for many years, the stunning village of Grasmere and this is where Mr T whisked me off to for a 2 night mini break- it was heaven! 

As wonderful as our mini break was, it was nothing compared to waking up on Monday to the amazing news that one of my beautiful besties had given birth to a precious baby girl- welcome to the world Isla Grace! I got to sneak a long cuddle too- awesome!

I spent Tuesday in school tidying- as only teachers do! I commented in my classroom page that there are a set of shelves to the left as you walk into my classroom which are a major embarrassment- well no longer!!! I am super proud of myself- I went in, I was focused, I sorted, I stayed on task and shock, horror, I finished the job…could it be that I'm becoming a completor-finisher in my old age?!

The rest of my half-term break has been spent in the company of my wonderful friends from work- we had yummy cakes and cuppas on Wednesday and then went for a pamper and a shop on Thursday. 
The washing up wasn't quite as much fun as the cake eating!
My scrap book haul is amazing-
When we sorted out my mother's house I was loathed to throw out photos or birthday cards. It is my intention to reduce the shear amount of paper by scrap- booking it all and having a jolly old crafting time doing so!

This weekend we are away visiting family back in Liverpool. It is my angelic looking nephew's Christening on Sunday and Mr T is very honoured to be Godfather. 
How cute is this little dude?!

I can't wait to see my family- not getting to see them everyday and watch my niece and nephews grow up is the hardest part of living away from home. 
My beautiful sister and niece Xx
How has your half-term break been or are you already on Summer break?
Either way, I hope you're having an awesome time! 

Don't forget to hop back to Doodle Bugs to visit more bloggers and catch their Five for Fridays.

Saturday, 23 May 2015

You oughta know…about Mystery Readers!

This has got to be one of my favourite link-ups ever!!!
I'm linking up with Jasmine over at Buzzing with Mrs McClain again and a whole heap of other amazing teacher-bloggers.

This month I'm sharing an idea with you that I can totally, hands on my heart say, wasn't mine! I'm pretty sure I saw the idea of having a Mystery Reader on another teacher-bloggers Instagram and loved it! 

If you need to inspire a spark of interest in your children when it comes to reading or if you, like me, have a class of kiddies who are desperate to read at story time then a mystery reader is for you!

It is such a simple concept-
1. Ask who would like the chance to be a Mystery Reader- it is an optional, fun experience
2. Put names into a pot/ bag/ hat and draw one out each day
3. Secretly  let the child know that they will be the following day's Mystery Reader- I put a note inside their home reading diary so they don't find out until they are at home and can share the fun with their family (obviously I know the children who won't get this experience at home so I pull them aside and let them know before they go home)
4. Set aside a time every day where the children close their eyes and the Mystery Reader can then come up to the reading chair ready to read
5. The children then open their eyes with gasps of  'ooo, ahhh, I thought it would be you!' And the reading begins!


My class love it- they choose a book from home or our class which they feel comfortable reading and get sooooo excited for each other that you could hear a pin drop whilst the story is being told!

The rules are simple- 
1. If you don't want to be one then you don't have to be
2. Keep it a secret

Our class love it and I'm sure yours will too!
we've even had adults from other classes and the school caretaker be one!

Mystery Reader is most certainly one of the best teacher shares  I have spotted and I couldn't resist sharing it with you today!

Sunday, 17 May 2015

Sunday Scoop

Only one more week until half-term people!
It's been a while since I last linked up with the lovely Teaching Trio and this week I really need to focus my mind as there is a lot going on! 
Thanks to some staffing changes I am getting a day out of class this Tuesday to sort out the massive mound of Art and Design Technology resources we have in school. They are all stored in a big cupboard but between changes in the curriculum and staff everything has kind of gotten into a big jumble and I just haven't had the time to get in there and sort it all out- hooray for Tuesday!! 

I have 2 weeks to find a lovely outfit for my nephew's christening- Mr T is to be Godfather and I can't wait to see my family and spend some quality time with my dad who lives up in Scotland.

If you follow me over on IG then you may have seen a picture linking to my other blog- Confessions of a Try-hard . I started this blog over 2 years ago and usually post about recipes, things I try to make or other things (sometimes political) that spark my interest. Over there I am a sporadic blogger at best (hard to believe I know seeing as I am so dedicated over here!) but this is something I aim to change.

It is Mr T's birthday in a few weeks and I always struggle to find something I know he will really like- if he wants something, he usually gets it himself! I'm thinking of getting him a FitBit- let me know your thoughts- he goes the gym most nights and also cycles on a regular basis. 
It is half-term break next week but seeing as it is also our anniversary and my nephew's christening over the break, I don't want to be doing loads of planning too. 

We will have been married for 6 years on the 23rd (go us!) and Mr T has planned a weekend away for us- I don't know where but I do know it will be awesome! 
Wow! 6 years ago!!!

Have a wonderful week guys 

Friday, 15 May 2015

TGIF popcorn spelling

Teachers Get Inspired Friday
Hi there my lovelies- how has your week been? 
It's been a while since I shared a TGIFspin with you as I have been loving Doodlebugs 5 for Friday link-ups lately- have you linked up this week? 

So let's talk popcorn- I love it! It's soft yet crunchy, salty yet sweet, nice yet not too naughty and nowadays you can purchase cute retro tubs for less than a £1 (under a $1) just to add a little somethin', somethin' to the experience. I have 2 such tubs in my cupboard and spotted some more in the local cheap shop. I have been desperate to use them in class but wasn't sure how to. 

 I had a little nosey on TpT and pinterest (as you do when you're a teacher, in bed, half asleep with the never ending list on repeat in your mind!) and I saw some lovely spelling activities using a popcorn theme. Now, my kiddie-winks are quite motivated when it comes to practising and learning their spelling but I know as well as the next teacher that you have to keep it fresh if you want to keep it that way.

Over on TpT I found a cute freebie spelling practise sheet here at Samblanet's Smarties and High Frequency words on popcorn pieces here at Mrs D's Corner. I know these were freebies but I still left feedback- they are amazing resources which these sellers have very kindly made free and, although I won't earn any TpT credits for it, as a seller myself I know how much I love feedback, even on my freebies! 

To top off my new activity pack I found some mega cute sunglasses in Primark- I bought 2 pairs for the little ones to wear as they test each other on their spellings. 

The finished Centre looks like this-

The kiddies take it in turns to pull a word from their tub, read it to their partner and their partner writes the word before they mark it together. This way they are practising reading sight words as well as spelling them. Plus they have an opportunity to work co-operatively with a friend. 
This has been THE most popular Centre this week! 
Who would have funked it- spelling tests, a popular activity! 

How do you jazz up your spelling/ word work? 
Until next time… 

Wednesday, 13 May 2015

Wordless Wednesday

There's something fishy about these doubles...

I love this mid week link-up with Miss DeCarbo over at Second Grade Sugar and Spice

I teach Year 2 and my little ones are getting ready to move into the
Juniors come September. 
I always strive to send them up with solid calculation and times tables knowledge as well as a good understanding of other multiplication and division strategies but this week it feels like we've taken 10 steps backwards. They have been like a bunch of wild monkeys- scratching their heads and staring blankly at me! 
Suddenly my amazing adders are staring from 1 to add 2 numbers together- even for simple calculations- does this drive you crazy?
Me too!
We spent today going over using near doubles as a strategy! AGAIN!
Fingers crossed it sticks this time!
Please someone tell me it almost half term (either that or have wine on hand!)

Wednesday, 6 May 2015

It's arrived….!

So a week or so ago I blogged about why I was choosing to move to Erin Condren for my planning needs and voila….here it is!!!!
Isn't it BEAUTIFUL????!!!!!!

It arrived last night- picture this… I'm lying on the sofa wallowing in a headache and self pity whilst watching Dance Moms when in walks Mr T with a big cardboard box….I nearly hit the roof with excitement, all thoughts of wallowing evaporated!!

As soon as I ripped the box apart I was in love, smitten, wooed! My heart, from here on in, lies with the wonderful world of Erin Condren and here is why…

Firstly, you can personalise the cover and it's interchangeable with other funky and inspiring designs! 
Secondly, it is full of super inspirational quotes all aimed at teachers- way to feel special! 

There are a couple of elements which are more suited to the US classroom than the UK but I think I've found a way to make them work for me…

The 'Holidays and Dates to Remember' page is aimed at US events but each month has space to write
in more plus I think I'm going to utilise this page to remind me of important dates for my Teachers Pay Teachers products.

I also won't get too much use out of this page as all our registers are done on a computer system and as I have the same class all day, every day then I have a pretty good idea of what my littlies have missed so I think I will use these pages to keep track of important letters they might have missed.

Now, I might have clicked the option to include more of this section- oops! 
It is basically a mark-book which will be great for keeping track of our weekly Basic Skills test scores, who has brought their homework in and who has returned letters but I'm pretty sure I don't need 21 pages of it! 

So….past the bits I won't use so much and onto the amazingness that is THE TEACHER PLANNER!!!!
At the front of the planner is a really useful page where I can note down passwords which is fab as we have to update our school email passwords about once per month and I am always forgetting mine! I will also use the 'Happy Birthday' page this year as I need to use the wall space I have my Birthday's up on for something else. Also this means I can always have their Birthday card ready on the right day! 
The planner is also littered with 'Notes' pages- a teacher can never have too many of those right?!

 I adore this page- I like to plan out how my year will go over the Summer break- including the kinds of trips our class will go on and when I need to make time for events and gifts- LOOOOVE IT!

I think I will use these pages but totally see how other might choose not to. I'm planning on photocopying the 'Substitute' page and leaving it for my supply teacher when I'm not in as I will probably have my planner with me wherever I go! I love the 'Reliable Students' space!!! Hahahaha!!! Now who would I recommend?! 

And now to the best part…..the lesson planning section!!!!
There is a monthly overview section which I know my lovely teacher pal and I will use when we sit down to plan our terms work- I love that the planner is date-less too. After each month there is also a note page for extra ideas and noting down things that are going on that month- fab for using in staff meetings.
Next comes a double-page spread for the week- again this is date-less so will fit with your school year. Each day has 7 sections and for me that is fab- it means I can bullet point my main ideas for Literacy, Guided Reading, Phonics, Numeracy and 2 afternoon sessions every day with an extra section for anything special which might need planning in. 

The planner doesn't just have paper pages in it- when you get to the back there are several pages of preprinted and blank labels, a paper wallet to keep things in and a zipper pocket for little bits and pieces. I also opted to have page protectors included which is where I intend to store my Medium Term planning. 

 Are you sold yet? Do I have a fellow Condren Convert? No…? Take a peak at the extras I got then…

I ordered these cute extras (above) but the stuff in the picture bellow came as a fantastic FREE welcome pack!!! How amazing is that?! 

WOW- that was a huge post- thanks for sticking with me! I did intend to do this as a video post but my phone kept running out of memory!!!! AAAGGGHHH!!!! 

I'd love to know if you chose the Erin Condren route- which cover did you go for?!

Thinking of joining the EC club? Use this link to snag a discount…

Keep me updated on your EC news peeps! 

Sunday, 3 May 2015

May Currently

Where has the year gone?
I love the 'Currently' link up with Farley over at Oh' Boy 4th Grade but man…they're coming around faster and faster each month! 

So…yeah when we moved house we got Netflix- WHERE HAS IT BEEN ALL OF MY LIFE??!!! I'm obsessed! My latest binge watch is Life Unexpected- how about you? What are you currently Netflixing?

Bank Holidays are just amazeballs! A day off work for no reason! I'm planning on watching the Sky Movies Star Wars marathon- it is May 4th after all!

Hum…yeah we've lived in the new house for a total of 8 weeks now and I still have boxes of clothes to unpack- oops! It can't go on any longer so this is my main aim for the coming week- unpack!

Since last August we've been on 3 holidays- spoilt!!!! I've loved every moment of them but my waist hasn't- I must shed at least a few of the holiday pounds! This summer I've got the wedding of my very dear friend to go to, I hope to go on yet another holiday and compile a capsule wardrobe over the summer holidays- to be able to feel confident in myself and comfortable in my clothes then I need to get my eating habits and exercise regime sorted pretty quickly!   

Oh and yet another thing on my list is to grab some bargains over at the TpT Teacher Appreciation Sale this week- what do you have on your wish list? Don't forget to use the discount code for an extra bonus off your purchases.

Friday, 1 May 2015

May Day 5 for Friday

Where has April gone?
I can not believe this is the first day of May!!! 
I love this month- we have lots of  Birthdays and our 6th Anniversary to celebrate plus a Half Term break to look forward to!

Speaking of breaks- TGIF and this weekend is a long one! I love Bank Holiday weekends… spending time with family, having fun with friends and a big lie-in on Monday! If the weather holds then we will probably go for a walk around one of the lakes and then we've been invited over to a friends for a BBQ on Sunday- woohoo! What do you like to do on long weekends?

This week I got to pay a visit to a lovely Foundation Stage unit at a local school to see how they run their Funky Fingers/ Dough Gym session. The development of both fine and gross motor skills is a major issue for our children and has a massive knock on effect for handwriting so we have been looking at ways to address this for quite some time. After lots of research and trials we are planning on adopting Alistair Bryce-Clegg's approach as a whole Key Stage. 
There are many elements of Funky Fingers/ Dough Gym we already do but it was great to see how a school facilitates a discrete session and we have come away feeling amazing! If you would like to know more about Alistair Bryce-Clegg and his work then click here to visit his website which is jam packed with fantastically creative ideas for foundation stage and KS1 classrooms. I'm sure there will be a future post dedicated to our progress so watch this space!

Our Staff Meeting this week was all about using iPads effectively in our classrooms rather than just an add on. Our wonderful and very technically minded Deputy did a 10 minute highlights lesson with us taking on the role of the children. The lesson focused on using the Epic Citadel and Tag Cloud Apps as a creative stimulus for writing- it was fantastic! Although I am quite happy using presentation Apps such as 30hands and PicCollage with the kids, I have to admit that building my lessons around the iPads is something I am yet to master. Anyway, this 'lesson' inspired us and after chatting with my lovely co-teacher we came up a way to use Tag Cloud as the main forum for collecting descriptive language in our next lesson.
The Lesson
Each group was given an envelop and had to secretly open it. Inside was a Galapagos animal from our current book- 'We're sailing to the Galapagos'. The children were given some thinking time and then asked to 'silently discuss' appropriate word choices using Tag Cloud. The only rules were 1. each cloud must include at least 1 verb 2. they must not mention the animals name and 3. they could not repeat words. Once they had collected all of the words they had (they could input more than 1 each) then they could choose a cloud which matched the appearance of their animal. Using air server each group then took it in turns to share their cloud with the class who had to guess which animal they had been given- if they guessed correctly then the group had successfully made appropriate word choices. 
It was fantastic to see how the children co-operated and used facial expressions/ gestures to support each other-during the 'silent discussion' you could of heard a pin drop! We then built on this lesson to create descriptive passages about the Galapagos animals. 
I know this is not the most jazzy lesson in the world but I was so proud of my little friends and myself- if you have any Apps you think I should try or blogs I should red then please let me know.

Whilst we're on the subject of Galapagos animals…. to link with our Tag Cloud lesson I decide I would try to make some craftivities for our kiddies. I'm not the most talented graphic designer by any stretch of the imagination and I don't have any real graphic design programs just good old PowerPoint but I am very proud of the results-
Some of my creativity elements
The giggle- inducing Blue Footed Boobie
A finished Lava Crab

I loved taking part in the Stop, Swap and Roll blog hop last weekend- did you visit any blogs involved? I entered loads of give-aways and gained lots of inspiration. I was overwhelmed by the amount of readers I recieved and the give away to win Anchored in Learning's 'Button Task Card Center' was swamped but as always there must be a winner! 
 Teresa L. YOU ARE MY WINNER!!! 
I'm excited to be a part of future blog-hops and getting to know some of you lovely people better.

Here's to a wonderful Bank Holiday weekend friends

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