Monday, 30 April 2012

Project work: Making homework easier

I have found that a great thing to do for homework is to set a weekly research project. I try to keep them quite general so that the children can pick what they choose. It makes for much more interesting reading material when correcting their work. I lay each project out with 4 sections. The children are given the task sheet on Monday and then do one section per night. It also means that you only have to correct this work on Friday, rather than flicking through copybooks daily. I find that the children really engage with these projects too as it's all their own work and on a topic of their choice.

Click here to download the task sheet for studying a country of their choice. 
(Thanks to Phillip Martin @ for the free clipart)

Friday, 27 April 2012

Big scale art lesson: Mona Lisa

I have wanted to try this out for a long time and was inspired by Denis Moynihan's 4th and 5th class blog (previously featured in the class blog spotlight). I put a picture of the Mona Lisa on the board and drew a grid over it (well, placed a blank table over it in PowerPoint). I assigned each child a number and numbered the squares on the board. They then had to concentrate really carefully to find different tones of colours in their square. I then finished it off with a shop-bought gold border (kindly loaned by another teacher in the school - thanks!)

The photograph below gives an idea of the size of it on the wall. I must say, the sheer size of it, makes it look quite impressive. I love how it's made up of a little piece from everybody. It's a great way to do shared art. I think I might do a similar lesson next week but where children work in groups of 6 to recreate other great works of art.

Tuesday, 24 April 2012

Teaching time

Below are some classroom activities and resources for teaching time in fun and interactive ways.

"Bang on Time" is a great activity for helping children to get used to reading analogue clocks. It generates a time in words and the children have to click "stop the clock" when the hands are in the right position. You can adjust the speed as required. 

There are lots of activities for practicing time-related skills on for all age levels. They are based on the Irish national maths curriculum and are divided according to class level. You'll find TONNES of maths activities, nicely grouped by class-level and topic on this site.

Comparing clocks. This activity from TES iboard has plenty of scope for reinforcement activities. There are two clocks with moveable handles. You could have children race to put the hands at a certain time. TES recommend using it for duration, i.e. you show a time on one clock, call out a duration and the children have to show the end time on the second clock. There is a single clock version of it here.

Reading timetables: I found this drag and drop activity through for allowing children to self-assess their timetable-reading skills.

This loop game (suited for middle/senior classes) from Super Teacher Worksheets involves reading clock faces and calling out digits. 

Saturday, 21 April 2012

An aimsir resources

Dia daoibh!

Just a short post today!

Click here to download classroom posters based on the theme, an aimsir.

I have also uploaded resources for creating a map for the children to present their own réamhaisnéis na haimsire. It'll also work as a nice display when you're covering the theme. I drew a large map of Ireland onto green paper and stuck on the noticeboard with the treoracha flashcards. I then cut out and laminated the symbols and asked the children to present the weather forecast. Click here to download it.

Wednesday, 18 April 2012

Titanic Letter Writing Rubric FREEBIE

We're doing another class book (where each pupil writes a page) called "Letters from the Titanic." This week has been heavily Titanic-themed so this gives them an opportunity to show off their knowledge.

I've pitched them with the scenario that they are passengers on board the Titanic who overheard the captain and ship designer saying that the boat has just hit an iceberg and will crash in less than two hours. They must write a letter to a loved one, telling them about the voyage and explaining their feelings. They will then put it in a bottle and send it out into the Atlantic Ocean.

Click on the image below to download the self-assessment rubric that the children will be using to assist them in editing their letters.

Just a quick note to anybody downloading this - the total line should read (/18) not (~/15). Apologies!

Monday, 16 April 2012

Favourite Fonts

Adrienne at Unless Teaching is hosting a favourite fonts linky party. Here are mine:

For those of you who're not familiar with how to download and install them, this my simplest explanation:
1. Google the name of the font or search for it on a website such as
2. Download it.
3. Unzip the folder if it is zipped.
4. Go to Control Panel and type "font"
5. Click on "Install or remove a font"
6. Drag your font file into this folder.
Et voilá!

Saturday, 14 April 2012

Class Blog Spotlight: Belmayne ETNS

Welcome to the third post in the "Class Blog Spotlight" series. In these, I'm highlighting some noteworthy class blogs. Today, it's Paula at Belmayne Educate Together N.S. in Dublin. Paula teaches Junior Infants and uses this blog really effectively for sharing the children's learning.

The thing that stands out most for me are the posts filed under the category "Notes to Parents." I think this is a great way for a teacher to link learning with those at home. In this category, you'll find notes about school events but also information and tips for parents (e.g. the 3 "p"s of writing, wordbags). 

The blog also contains photographs of the children engaged in class activities. It is clear from these that they are learning in a fun and interactive manner (I really love the Michelangelo style art lesson!). There are some beautiful and creative photos of displays. If you are teaching in an Educate Together school, it's definitely worth having a look at Paula's clear and well-presented Ethics board displays. 

Tuesday, 10 April 2012

Titanic Teaching Resources

As Sunday marks 100 years since the Titanic sank, next Monday is a perfect day for exploring all things Titanic-related in the classroom. Here's an idea of some of the Titanic-themed lessons that I'm planning:

History: KWL chart in project scrapbooks. Complete a 3 page project on the Titanic, aiming to answer the questions asked in the W column. Examine photographs and diary entries. Debate: Was the Titanic unsinkable? (last link from here)

Geography: Map the route of the Titanic. Explore icebergs. Examine the phrase "That's only the tip of the iceberg."

Science: Design paddle boats. I came across a nice construction lesson here.

Music: Listening and responding to "Nearer My God To Thee," a song that was reported to have been played on the ship as it sank. They will then compose a sound story to document the story of the Titanic --> setting off, the buzz on board, hitting the iceberg, sinking, the calm after all of the commotion.

Visual arts: Discussion on warm/cold colours. Paint a picture of the Titanic using mainly cold colours.

Drama: Define class - the differences between first, second and third class. Imagine that they are on the Titanic. One person is a third class passenger, the other is a first class passenger. They become friends but both sets of parents disapprove of the friendship. Hotseat the children and the parents. Generate potential solutions for this conflict.

In the children's individual computer time (in my classroom, all children have two short computer slots each week where they are assigned sites to check out weekly.)
Take a Virtual Dive to the Titanic: This section of the Discovery Channel site focuses on the technology used to explore the wreck of the Titanic. It's a very child-friendly, interactive way of exploring the Titanic. This would certainly appeal to the older classes in primary school.
(I found this on Scoilnet's Titanic page. There you'll find plenty of links for pupils and teachers alike.)
The Encyclopedia Titanica site is also useful for researching projects.

titanic lessons for kids, titanic classroom activities, titanic lesson ideas , titanic resources

Monday, 9 April 2012

Seomra Ranga Filmstrips

Once again Seomra Ranga has gone and blown me away. It has always been one of my favourite "go to" sites for resources, particularly classroom displays. Now, there's a new section called Filmstrips where old filmstrips have been digitalised and uploaded. Each post filed under this category contains an embedded slideshow of the filmstrips and an option of downloading the teacher's notes in PDF format. The slideshows can also be downloaded from Seomra Ranga's Slideshare page.

It is clear that an immense amount of work went into this project. For that, I highly commend Damien.

If you would like to read more about the process of making these resources available on Seomra Ranga, have a look at Damien's blog post about it here.

Sunday, 8 April 2012

Measuring wind speed - making anemometers

I made these anemometers with my class. They're surprisingly easy and cheap to do. I followed these instructions from the SERCC website. 

Here's how I displayed them with a sign saying "Check out our awesome anemometeres!" and details on how to use them. I also stuck up tables for 8 groups to fill in the wind speed on various days [date, rotations in 10 seconds, wind speed (mph), wind speed (kmph)]. Click here to download these signs and record sheets.

Thursday, 5 April 2012

Class Blog Spotlight: St. Patrick's N.S.

PhotobucketWelcome to the second part of my "Class Blog Spotlight" series. Today, I'd like you to put your hands together for the wonderful Miss Ward and her first class in Celbridge, Co. Kildare.

At first glance, this blog jumps out as being bright, colourful and well-laid out. The blog posts detail lessons that show the clear creativity and talent of their teacher. There are some lovely photographs of displays and of the children doing hands-on activities. What stood out the most for me from this blog are the videos that give an insight into some of their class performances. I particularly like the video of An Haka Gaelach and the Goldilocks and the Three Bears-themed compositions for music.

If you teach a junior primary school class, just a quick scan through this blog will give you a host of ideas and no doubt drench you with inspiration! Well done, Miss Ward!

Monday, 2 April 2012

Sneak peek into my classroom

Happy hols!

I have learned a lot about displays from the teaching blogs this year, yet I feel it's an area that I haven't quite mastered yet (all in good time, I suppose!). Here are a few parts of my classroom that I'm quite happy with:

1. SESE and Maths focus areas. 
This SESE one has our polystyrene models of the layers of the earth (hanging from the ceiling), a map of Ireland with counties listed by provence (thanks to Seomra Ranga), the continents of the world (blue heading and black-backed map) with the children's factfiles of the continents underneath and maps of Europe, the world and the solar system.
Our maths corner has a pack of cards (to help with probability questions in Mental Maths), metric units and conversions, fraction wall, percentage wall, shapes posters, rugby players profiles (free with The Irish Times - contain height, weight, age, etc. - loads of scope for maths activities!) and home-made posters for area with pictures of the children holding/standing beside our examples of 1m squared and 100cm squared).

2. Giant history timeline. This timeline is about 8 or 9 A2 pages long. It took a bit of time to put together but I'm very happy with how it turned out. Rather than cluttering it with lots of individual events, I've just labelled it with the major time periods between 5000BC and the present. You can download the labels I made by clicking here, finding a load of black and coloured paper and spending a lot of time cutting and gluing! 

3. "We Are Authors" box. I use this box to hold class books. If we do work on A4 sheets during class, I simply gather them together and bind them with a clear sheet in front, coloured card behind and a plastic slide binder (very cheap to buy!). Examples of books we have made are a Martin Luther King class book, a travel brochure as Gaeilge, letters from Antarctica (pretending that they were Tom Crean) etc. I also bind any artwork that has been done on A4 sheets. If there is something like a collection of water safety posters, I ask a child to design a cover sheet (title, picture, explanation) on the computer. If you want the "We are Authors" sign, click here.

4. Gaeilge: Prionta sa timpeallacht. I have displayed foclóir a bhaineann leis an t-am ar luaschártaí and stuck them on the wall around the clock. Click here to download these. They're laid out so that you can put four different coloured sheets into your printer and they'll work out correctly!

I also made a massive (2 A2 pages) airgead chart. It's very visual and the children refer to it ó am go h-am. Click here to download these.