Sunday, 27 September 2015

Mindfulness teaching resources and ideas for children

Hi all,

My current unit of inquiry is about keeping our bodies and minds healthy. We have done lots of inquiry into keeping our bodies healthy and we are going to focus on our minds in the coming weeks. Here are some of the techniques we are going to try out.

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I was wondering how to introduce the concept of mindfulness to children. An classmate of mine from university suggested starting with a bottle of water and glitter. Shake it up and explain that this is what our mind is like when it is full of thoughts - really all over the place. Then allow the bottle to have some time to settle and watch as the water clears and the glitter settles. It's a very simple and effective analogy. If you want to be super fancy, follow this recipe for a mason jar version.

Thanks to Ms Forde's Classroom's lovely blog post, I've now ordered Mindfulness Matters' "The Zone" resource. The download hasn't worked yet but I'm hoping to get that sorted ASAP. I am really looking forward to trying it out with the children. 
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We're going to do some Yoga as mindful moving. I don't know a lot about yoga. I've used videos on YouTube in the past but I wanted something that I would be able to teach myself. I decided to purchase this yoga resource made by Dancing into First for $4 on TPT. It has instructions for 20 different poses, written in easy to follow language (Good for teacher as well as students!!) and each pose has a child-friendly name such as "dog," "plane" or "tree."
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A thoughtful friend of mine got me a book entitled, "Art for Mindfulness: Geometrics." It's basically an adult colouring book - right down my alley! I found lots of "mandala" colouring sheets available to download for free from You'll need to create a free account to download them. It's worth your time as there are lots of great free resources on there! 

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Creative Playhouse has a wonderful post on how to make child-friendly sensory balloons which work similarly to stress balls. Here you can see how they can be made with different household materials. The children can then play with them and feel the different textures, describe how they feel and discuss which ones they prefer. 

Mindful eating is another area that could be discovered. As my school has a very strong healthy eating policy, perhaps we will do this with fruit. The idea is to get the children to really focus on the process and sensations associated with eating. The Guardian has a free PDF with guiding questions about mindfully eating chocolate. Again, you need to sign up for free to download it.

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We will focus on recognising different feelings and finding strategies to control negative feelings and help us to calm down. Last year we had a worry box in the classroom. There the children could anonymously write down their worries and then "send them away!" I also encouraged the children to make their own worry box to keep by their bed. I absolutely LOVE Kristina Marcelli's take on this where she made a worry monster who "eats" the worries.

I came across the resource pack, "A Volcano in My Tummy" while doing some work as a substitute learning support/resource teacher a few years back. Brown University have shared a preview of the book. You can download it for free here. I really like the outline of the person where the children draw/write what happens to their body when they get angry. More of that resource pack has been shared here.

So there you have it! If you have any other mindfulness resources/ideas to share, please comment below!

Wednesday, 23 September 2015

It's the little things!

My thought for today.

Sometimes even the smallest things make a big difference!

Sunday, 20 September 2015

Using the RWC to promote international-mindedness

The Rugby World Cup provides excellent opportunities for allowing children to explore other cultures and to develop tolerance and respect for their traditions.

The 2015 RWC got underway last Friday and the children in my class are very excited to follow it. Each of them picked a team out of a hat and they're going to record their teams' scores on our class chart.

It's also an idea to get your students to carry out a research project into the country of their choice and then present it to their class. I've got a template in this resource pack but you could always make your own. I was delighted to see that Ms. Forde's Classroom has already completed these projects and stuck my resources up. Don't they look lovely?

The traditional pre-match war dances from countries like Fiji, Samoa and New Zealand are always so interesting for children. You could get the children to invent their own war dance. I've created this playlist on YouTube that includes these dances, among other child-friendly rugby videos from the official RWC channel.

Monday, 14 September 2015

Free "Rethink Your Drink" Banner (Healthy Teeth)

Happy Monday everyone!

As part of our unit of inquiry about keeping healthy, we measured out how much sugar was in different drinks. First the children made predictions as to which contained the most/least sugar, then we looked at the packaging and weighed out these amounts. Here are some photos of when I did this activity with my class last year (I didn't get many pictures this year!).

This year I've taped the bags of sugar to the window sill, put the drinks on the window sill and put a banner, reading "Rethink your drink!" on the window above them. If you want to download that banner for free from Google Drive, just click here!

Apologies for the photo. It's very hard to get a decent photo with all that natural light in the background!

Saturday, 12 September 2015

Lego-superhero-themed essential agreements

Hello there! It has been a busy first week back with the children. Some people were asking me to share how the Lego superheroes turned out, so here goes! Of course, every first week of school involves deciding on class agreements. We democratically decided on 6 and then the children decorated posters. Here they are, being held up by the Lego superheroes. They look quite small in the second photograph but they seem much bigger in reality!

Monday, 7 September 2015

Parent Reminders

Hello there,

I hope everybody survived another Monday!

We had our first (half!) day with the children followed by a welcome meeting/presentation for the parents. 

I just wanted to share a pic of a little reminder list I created for the parents. It might be handy to stick up on the fridge and check in the morning.

Fonts: Kevin and Amanda
Schoolchildren Clip Art: My Cute Graphics
Background: Jonathan Pearson
Loopy frame: Chirp Graphics
Photo frame: Creative Clips by Krista Wallden

Sunday, 6 September 2015

One to Follow: Ms Forde's Classroom

Many of you may already know Ms. Forde's Classroom from her Facebook page. Well, during the summer she started a blog to share even more ideas and resources. She has some fantastic resources, many specifically for Irish teachers but others that are useful further afield (in fact, I often wander into my colleague's classroom in Italy and recognise Ms. Forde's creations on her walls!).

She has a TPT store which has lots of freebies along with the paid resources. It's definitely worth checking out! One of her most notable freebies is the All-Ireland Final Resource Pack which was downloaded by hundreds of Irish teachers!

Another favourite is her thematic planning template which she shared for free at the end of last month with lots of ideas on how to integrate subjects under the theme of "All Things Irish." Have a look at her blog post outlining how it could be done here.  This was very topical considering September is All-Ireland month and the Irish team are on the road to the Rugby World Cup.

Judging by the quality of resources and ideas Ms. Forde has already shared, I'm really looking forward to see how her blog continues. 

Friday, 4 September 2015

Classroom Reveal: Grade 3 PYP classroom

Hello all! I hope you all have had a productive week. I've just finished a fortnight of meetings, planning, training and classroom prep. Needless to say, I'm very tired after the long hours! Finally, the room is ready for the children's arrival on Monday. Here's a quick, visual tour of my classroom. If you follow my blog, you'll notice that I have kept lots of things from last year that worked well and I have added in some Lego and superhero-themed decorations to change it up a little. 

Let's begin with this welcome board. If you've seen The Lego Movie, you'll understand the "Everything is awesome" title. The children are going to decorate their own Lego people on day 1 and they'll be stuck up on this board. I've also got other Lego-themed bits and bobs in the room. The superheroes you see below will hold up our class' essential agreements when we have decided upon them. I got the "Today I feel" poster from Dana Moore. I picked up the Lego brick erasers from Dealz.

I've also put Lego-themed labels on my storage drawers, shelves and on the children's number lines/ place names. This welcome poster follows the Lego superhero theme too.

I kept the same calendar/birthday area as last year but changed the backing paper and border to freshen it up. The adorable owl-themed classroom birthdays display is from Halle Hird, the owl-themed calendar set is from from Apple Girl Amber and the header was from Sparklebox. All other elements were made by me. 

Here's the view from the back of my classroom. Of course, I couldn't help embellishing my own noticeboard with flowers!

PYP teachers, you'll notice the key concepts hanging there. I got these ones for free from Ms. Murdoch. I like to have them close to the board so that when I write an objective, I can also place the relative key concept close by (click here for my post about making the key concepts "alive!").

Here are two of the best bits in my desk area. The paper-storage house and polka dot ribbon are both from Tiger. Sick of misplacing my three remote controls, I finally did something about it and stuck on some velcro squares. Now they can stick firmly to the edge of my whiteboard and not take up desk space or go hiding!

Here is our Wonder Wall and transdisciplinary skills (approaches to learning) area. I made the skills posters myself - you can find them here.

Below are some pictures of our reading and reflection corner. I got the strawberry blanket and dotty cushion from Tiger to make it a bit more cosy. In the reflection area, there are 6 types of reflection sheets (including Learner Profile and PYP attitudes goal-setting sheets). You can find those here.


Here's a view of the back of my room (apologies for the poor lighting!).
 And here's the main unit of inquiry display board. I've pinned the transdisciplinary theme as the superhero badge on the cape. I'll change that for each unit of inquiry. I really love this watermelon bunting from Tiger!

Here's the section of my word wall that I reserve for unit-specific vocabulary.

Here's one side of my classroom. The board with the very shiny (and very badly stapled!!!) backing is going to be an angry verbs display. Stay tune for that when the children have made their parts. On the right, you can see our editing board. The giant pencil was free from The Teacher Wife and the "capital letters detective" display was made by me (and is available in my TPT store).

On the other side of the room, you'll find my classroom management behaviour clip chart. I got this one from Under The Alphabet Tree and added my own "Are we being principled?" sign.

 I hope you've enjoyed this tour and that it has given some inspiration for how to decorate a PYP classroom.

Thursday, 3 September 2015

Rugby World Cup Freebie

 Hi all, 

I can't believe the Rugby World Cup is starting in just two weeks! To celebrate, I've decided to share this freebie with you. It will be available to download for this weekend only. As it's the start of term, let's pretend the weekend starts tonight! Just click here or on the preview image to download.

It's a maths game - a target board. The idea is to change the number in the centre each day (just laminate it and you can use a whiteboard marker and rub it off). The children need to make up the target number in different combinations of tries, conversions, drop goals or penalties (remembering that you can't have more conversions than tries!). It could be a handy early finisher activity or it could be used as a morning maths warm-up activity in the older classes.

The freebie is part of a bigger resource set. The full set is available in English and in Irish on my TPT store. It costs $3 (less than €3). If you want to download either, click on one of the images below.