Saturday, 23 May 2015

Plant Life Cycles - free resources and ideas

In this post I have to give a big shout out to Sparklebox. Sparklebox has almost single-handedly saved me hours of planning and resource preparation time.

This week the children have been learning about life cycles of plants. This section of Sparklebox had more than enough resources to keep my children VERY BUSY this week. I just had to print, cut and laminate. Another great resource, was this cut and paste activity from Teachers' Pet . They have three differentiated versions but it's only available to premium members (£15 for a year's subscription).

Anyway, here are some pictures of what we got up to during the week:

We did an experiment to see how cress seeds would grow with or without water. It was very simple. All you need are cress seeds, cotton wool, two cups and felt tips to write on the cups. We used this Sparklebox cress booklet to document equipment used, predictions and daily growth (or lack thereof) in the two cups. At the end, there's also a section for a mini conclusion. 

The children LOVED this experiment to bits. They were so excited to watch how quickly their plants grow. They've all taken them home with the suggestion of making an egg and cress sandwich over the weekend!

I split the children into 4 groups and gave them pictures (from Sparklebox) of the parts of the life cycles of either a potato plant, an apple trea, a bean plant or a dandelion. They sequenced these together and then independently drew the life cycle and wrote what was happening at each stage into their language books. Then, as a group, they made a big poster of their plant's life cycle to share at assembly next week.

Then the children used these wonderful playdough mats (again from Sparklebox) that show 6 stages of the life cycle of a flowering plant. They worked with a group to create a playdough model of the seed/plant in each stage. Then they filmed the playdough mat as they read the description of each part. Finally, they used iMovie to put them all together into one video file.

Saturday, 16 May 2015

Our "How the World Works" unit of inquiry in pictures

My class has recently finished their fifth PYP unit of inquiry, under the transdisciplinary theme of "How The World Works." Our central idea was "Differing climates around the world impact how we live."

Here are a few pics of some things around the classroom by the end of the unit. Have a look back a few posts to find some more of the resources we used.

Saturday, 9 May 2015

The results are in: Irish teachers' planning and prep habits

Hi there,

Last week I made a survey to find out about Irish teachers' planning habits. I've looked at the first hundred results. 90% of the respondents were female (a typical representation of the male:female ratio in Ireland), with most responses coming from people within the age range of 20 to 39 years.

Here are some of the findings:

  • Most participants spend between 30 mins and 1.5 hours correcting work on weekdays and less than 1 hour correcting work at the weekend. 37% of the participants don't correct any work at the weekend.
  • Half of the participants spent 1-2 hours planning and preparing lessons midweek while a quarter spend less than 1 hour and a quarter spend more than 2 hours.
  • Only 8% of participants stated that they spend no time doing planning and preparation at the weekend. 
  • 55% of participants said they spend more than 2 hours planning and preparing at the weekend. 
  • 26% of participants said that they spend 4 or more hours planning and preparing at the weekend.
  • 84% of participants do some of their planning at home.
  • While just over half of participants finish all of their school work by 6pm midweek, 36% finish later than 8pm with a tenth of participants stating that they usually finish after 11pm.

So there you have it! If there are any results that you think are surprising or noteworthy, please feel free to comment below or on the A Crucial Week Facebook page.

*image from My Cute Graphics

Monday, 4 May 2015

Retail therapy in Tiger: The best cure to the Sunday Sads

Hello there,

I hope you're all hanging in there after the bank holiday weekend. Unlike my Irish counterparts, we celebrated Labour Day here with a day off school on Friday. So, in order to avoid the extra dose of the Sunday Sads and as a result of too much craft-searching on Pinterest, I decided to head out to Tiger last night and buy some goodies.

Here's my Tiger haul that only cost me €13. A lot of it may seem unnecessary but any craftaholics out there will understand that there's always a use for ANYTHING!

Mini shopping basket for storage - €4
2 rolls of polkadot ribbon 50m - €2 each
20 adhesive fabric strawberries - €2
2 pens - €1 for 2
Button magnets - €2

I also passed a lovely housey shop called Kasanova on the way. Again, if you regularly read this blog, you'll be aware of my obsession with owls... and if you know me personally, you'll know that I love all things purple. So how could I say no to this purple-trimmed owl storage box for just €3.50! (They have an online store but unfortunately they don't ship outside of Italy.)

So here's my recommendation for you if you feel a dose of the Bank Holiday Blues a-comin' - go buy something that makes you smile!

Sunday, 3 May 2015

Survey: Irish teachers' planning and preparation habits

Hi all,

I'm conducting a brief survey into Irish teachers' planning and preparation habits.

If you're an Irish teacher (working at home or abroad), please take a few minutes to do this 10-question survey. Click here to take part.

Thanks in advance,

*Image from