Camouflage Art

Chameleons are cute, clever and have the ability to blend in completely with their surroundings - what a fantastic animal to learn about in your class!

The rise in popularity of this little creature certainly rose when Pascal appeared on our screens (he's from Disney's Tangled if you didn't know that already! Great movie by the way).

Year of the Monkey Flipbook

As 2015 quickly appears to be coming to a close here is another post for all you organised bunnies for 2016.

I posted a few weeks back that 2016 will be the Year of the Monkey in both China and Japan. In order to have a bit of fun (and learn something of course!) I have put together a flipbook (also known as flip books). Now this is only the second flipbook I have ever made - but they are fun and students do seem to enjoy doing the activities and putting them together!

Possum in the House: Book Review

Title: Possum in the House
Author: Kiersten Jensen
ISBN: 9780949130020

Classification: Fiction
Themes: Australia, mischief, possums

Getting Organised with Class Rules

Before I begin about another idea you might want to consider for your new class in 2016 I wanted to make mention of a blog change...

Yes, it's official that you can access this blog now direct from the following address - Yay! It is so much easier to remember!

Okay, time to talk about what you are here to read about!

Class rules. Two words and yet the entire year you have with your class can be greatly influenced by how you set up and maintain your classroom rules.You certainly do not want to be steering staff or parents away from your room because the behaviour is out of control.

A Gift of Time

I have been thinking a lot about what I might give to my children on their next birthday - it's a while off but it's never too early to start planning! I really want to be able to give them more than just "stuff". My house is already full of stuff (which I am now sorting through and making the tough decisions on) and with the passing of two family members I know how precious time you spend with loved ones can be. My grandparents were always at a loss as to what to give - and this leads me to my latest creation!

Getting Organised

Going through my organisation tub (I should write one of my organisation tubs) I came across some of the materials I use at the beginning of the year. The tubs were meant to make it easy for me just to grab them and take to a new classroom in the new year and know I had everything ready to go - of course I am still looking for the one thing I was searching for...fingers crossed it is in the other tub!

Classroom Pets

I have always had a classroom pet, of some description, while teaching students. Why? I personally feel that it teaches students a degree of responsibility and life skills that are important for them to have if we expect them to grow into thinking adults.

Over the years I have had frogs and fish as my main classroom pets. As a student myself I vividly remember my grade 2 teacher having a pet axolotls in the classroom - we were so enthralled by them but cutting up the meat was a little icky (but we loved it anyway). Another teacher I remember has silkworms - though only a couple of us got to have the silk (we were never told the truth about the poor moth!). Overall though I have grown up to love animals and be a responsible pet owner. Unlike other children though I was fortunate to also have pets at home (including a fish, mouse and cats).

Aussie Mossie: Song Review

Song: Aussie Mossie
Artist: Don Spencer
Year: 1988
Nationality: Australian

Narrative with science elements

The Twits: Book Review

Title: The Twits
Author: Roald Dahl
ISBN: 014241039X

Classification: Fiction
Themes: humor

Handing Over the Baton

It's that time of year here in Australia when reports are written and classes for 2016 are set and ready to go with just a couple of weeks left until the end of the school year. Many classes begin the daunting task of finishing off work, sorting through trays and lockers, and then the dreaded fill-in tasks begin!

This activity was introduced to me by a colleague who was teaching next door to me at the time. I found it to be a fantastic activity and have completed it every year since. To me, this is the perfect end of year activity as it has meaning, is creative and allows for the teacher who will be gaining each student to have a sample of work to consider over the holiday 'break'.

Year of the Monkey

Being organised for the classroom next year is something already on the minds of teachers in Australia as term 4 rapidly draws to a close. For language classrooms it is equally important to be looking for resources relevant to the upcoming year to brighten the class and make it look and feel a little different than this year.

The Tale of the Lucky Cat: Book Review

Title: The Tale of the Lucky Cat
Author: Sunny Seki
ISBN: 0966943791

Classification: Fiction
Themes: Japan, history, legends, courage, compassion, resilience

Not Pretty Enough: Song Review

Song: Not Pretty Enough
Artist: Kasey Chambers
Year: 2002 (written 2001)
Nationality: Australian

feelings, social awareness

Don't Tell Lies, Lucy

Title: Don't Tell Lies, Lucy
Author: Phil Roxbee Cox
ISBN: 0746097190

Classification: Fiction
Themes: moral, right & wrong

Plant Environments

Having plants in the classroom is a great way to get the students interested and involved in science.

The Quiltmaker's Gift

Title: The Quiltmaker's Gift
Author: Jeff Brumbeau
ISBN: 0439309107

Classification: Fiction with moral
Themes: moral, journey, generosity,

Letter to the Beatles: Song Review

Song: Letter to the Beatles

Artist: Four Preps
Year: 1964
Nationality: American

Theme: pop culture, rhyming, humour

Places and Spaces

Title: Places and Spaces
Author: Debbie Diller
ISBN: 1571107220

Classification: Non-fiction
Themes: classroom, organisation, staff

Nature Up Close

One of the reasons I love teaching science is the diversity that comes with it. Teaching 5 different classes however can be rather monotonous so it is important to ensure that there is some differentiation in work that is completed in the classroom - otherwise marking become repetitive!

On a lovely day I took my classes out (one by one) to collect 5 different natural items. In order to do this each student was given a small bag which had a number attached to the bag (the number corresponded with their assigned seat number) which was just a laminated number on a string hooked onto the handle. I bought the bags in a pack of 3 from Cheap as Chips for about a $1 each.

Basic Word Walls

When I first started teaching I don't think I truly appreciated how important word walls would become. I had always intended to work with older students - thus those first couple of years were a bit of a shock.

Here is what I have learned over the years about setting up and maintaining a working word wall...

On Fortune's Wheel: Book Review

Title: On Fortune's Wheel
Alternative Title: The Tale of Birle
Author: Cynthia Voigt
ISBN: 0689829574

Classification: Fiction
Themes: adventure, self belief, courage

The Writer Within

Encouraging students to write well is occasionally difficult. The first time that someone puts pen to paper they are convinced it is the most fantastic piece of writing ever created...and then they learn to be brutal and edit...and then they embark on become a truly talented writer.

I was very disappointed to learn this week that Authonomy was closing. For those of you who have never used the website, Authonomy was run by HarperCollins and along with reading the work of other writers you could also review and comment. The highlight was the top 5 books being reviewed by HarperCollins...but this is now all closing down.

Birthday Cake Debate

This morning when I was reading the news this article from the Sydney Morning Herald caught my eye: "Birthday cakes banned at Only About Sydney childcare centre in Surry Hills".

There are, without a doubt, people who will have the opinion that this is unAustralian and ridiculous and then there will be those who will be thinking "Hooray!". Most of you are unfamiliar with the fact that I am not afraid to weigh in with my own opinion, so here it is...

Having grown up in a very religious family who didn't celebrate birthdays or other occasions from the age of 4 I used to dread birthday parties at school in particular. Often I would be asked to leave the room and go to the library. It was very isolating as I felt as though I was being punished.

Sports Day Lead-Up

As term four looms ahead many thoughts turn to Sports Day (the equivalent of Fields Day in the USA). While many schools have theirs in term 1 while summer is still in full swing many other schools choose term 4.

I remember practising endlessly with PE teachers in preparation for Sports Day. The enthusiasm of students when they saw the groundsman had marked out the running and hurdle tracks was overwhelming. All students would be out there at recess and lunch practising with friends. Does this still happen?

All About Me Displays (Japanese Version)

Looking for a new Getting To Know You activity for your Japanese language classroom this year? Look no further (but do click to Read More).

I Was Only 19 (A Walk in the Light Green): Music Review

A soldier recounts the trauma he saw and experienced while serving in the Vietnam War in one of Australia's most iconic hits.

The Name Jar

Title: The Name Jar
Author: Yangsook Choi
ISBN: 9780440417996

Classification: Fiction
Themes: cultural differences, identity, friendship

A Banquet

7 Wonders clipart (c) Phillip Martin
I have blogged before about my love of ancient civilisations. I love history and love to teach about it.

While digging through an old file (as I slow organise and burn them to CD) I came across some photos from a few years ago.

I taught in this particular composite 6/7 class for one term. They were a fairly sheltered bunch in the sense they attended a very small school and had limited exposure to different teachers - including teaching technique, style and expectations. I never apologise for the fact I have high expectations of students - how else will they challenge themselves?

Book Week 2015 Is Almost Here!

Books graphic
(c) MyCuteGraphics
Yes, it is already AUGUST!

Can you believe how quickly it has come? Me neither, but Book Week is just a couple of weeks away!

This year the week is from Saturday, 22nd August until Friday, 28th August. What makes this year special is that The Children's Book Council of Australia (CBCA) is celebrating 70 years! I know I always looked forward to Book Week when I was in school and while I haven't seen the library transformations like when I was a kid I am sure there are librarians and library assistants working hard to ensure they create an super-engaging environment for the students!

65 Roses: Song Review

Song: 65 Roses
Artist: The Wolverines
Year: 2002
Nationality: Australian

disease, science, perspective

Day After Day

One of the first things we learn about are the names of the days of the week. This is usually closely following by the order of the days and finally how to spell them!

As the English names can be a bit on the dull side this week I turned my attention to my Japanese resources. I have created a series of both posters and cards that feature the days of the week in Hiragana, Kanji and English and have a matching picture to represent the Kanji word meaning.

Celtic Knots : Colours and Shadework Art

Celtic knots. Fascinating as they never end. On a personal level I absolutely love all things Celtic and therefore it should come as now surprise that I finally got an activity into the classroom.

Literacy Work Stations

Title: Literacy Work Stations
Author: Debbie Diller
ISBN: 9781571103536

Classification: Staff resource - literacy
Themes: literacy, work stations

Tadpole Blues: Song Review

When thinking about using music in lessons I am very particular about the artist and song I use. I strongly feel this is especially important when working with junior primary schools (reception to grade 2). For example, at a school I worked at in a junior primary class the combined school performed for parents a couple of times a term. At one such performance a grade R/1 composite class performed a Katy Perry song. I felt this was inappropriate given the content of many of her songs which are targeted at a much older audience than ages 5 and 6 years old. The teacher in question justified it by saying the "kids listen to her all the time" and "they love her". I doubt though that every student and every parent however would agree. Despite voicing my opinion it went ahead and leadership said nothing. As a parent I would be horrified if I had a 5 year old who was singing one of her songs. It doesn't matter what students are listening to at home - that is up to their parents to decide - but I feel in the classroom we should be striving to use songs that are appropriate and relevant.

This therefore is the first in a series of post about different songs that can be used to complement work being carried out in the classroom. All posts will have the label "song selection" to locate quickly.

Acknowledging Swimming Achievements

Kids Swimming (c) My Cute Graphics.
While it is extremely cold where I live at the moment (and would not even dream heading to the pool) the northern hemisphere are in summer. Summer is inevitably linked with sun, sand and water. The water part however can only be partly enjoyed if you haven't yet learned how to swim.

The Doorbell Rang

Title: The Doorbell Rang
Author: Pat Hutchins
ISBN: 9780688092344

Classification: fiction with mathematical elements
Themes: mathematics (doubling), friends, visitors

My Two Blankets: Teaching Ideas

Looking for some teaching ideas to use with "My Two Blankets"?
You've come to the right place!

Warm and Cool Colours

I wanted to teach students about using colours in a different way. I would usually choose pencils but my class had begged me to buy oil pastels at the beginning of the year (anything messy just isn't to my liking but it was a new medium). This project was completed towards the end of term 1.
Grade 3 example of using cool colours.
Work in progress.

I Came From The Water: Book Review

Moses has lost his family to the floods. Then the earthquake comes. Then the chloera. Can Moses stay strong and keep going?

Bugs In My Hair!

Title: Bugs In My Hair
Author: David Shannon
ISBN: 9780545143134

Classification: Fiction with real life element
Themes: hygiene, lice/nits

Twisted Rhymes

As adults many of us learn about the truth behind modern fairytales and rhymes. If you don't already know, fairytales were originally intended for an adult audience and not children - thus the content and outcomes of the stories is often unrecognizable with their modern counterparts.

This is an activity I did based on the rhyme "Little Bo Peep". We know she lost her sheep but I wanted my class of  grade 6/7s to think outside the box. They needed to consider what the real story might have been behind the rhyme - as if it was in code.

Book Week 2015: Fire

Book Week 2015

Fire by Jackie French is shortlisted by CBCA for the Picture Book of the Year.

This fictional book and a follow-up to her book Flood. This is a powerful story of the very real threat a bushfire poses in Australia. Through rhyming verses she explores the feelings of just how it feels to be confronted by such an imposing force.

Japanese: Family Trees

This is my first post in regards to a language other than English (more commonly referred to as L.O.T.E.).

Teaching English to students (when it is their native tongue) can be tricky enough on its own but then throwing another language at them can be confronting, scary, a little exciting...but normally just daunting.

Book Week 2015: One Minute's Silence

Teach your students about what the happened during the Battle of Gallipoli in 1915 with the book "One Minute's Silence" and these teaching activities.

Spelling: Trying Before Helping

I'm Not Afraid of my Words
spelling chart
In my first year of teaching I became a little frustrated with students thinking that I was a walking dictionary. At the time I taught several classes so I wasn't able to implement strategies I had been taught about at university, such as "have-a-go" books (otherwise I would be drowning in books).

In the end I found a novel little idea on Pinterest. A chart in the classroom to get them to have a go first.

I have searched my Pinterest boards for the original pin and also on the Internet but haven't managed to find it again. The idea though may have be based on Lisa Cleaveland's idea which is featured in a book. I believe the book is entitled About the Authors: Writing Workshop and Our Youngest Writers  written by both Lisa Cleaveland and Katie Wood Ray. An excerpt featuring Chapter 4 of the book (which includes the aforementioned chart) is included and available to download for free from Heinemann's website.

Feelings: Being Scared

If you live in South Australia, like I do, and work as a teacher then by now you should have heard of the Keeping Safe: Child Protection Curriculum (KS:CPC). Every teacher who has this as a subject (usually incorporated into Health lessons) is required to have undertaken training first. In theory this is what DECD state but we all know that in the world of teaching not everything goes to plan.

The training is a one-day workshop. It doesn't tax the brain at all and is straight-forward. If you are a teaching graduate you will find that much of the content was covered at university (or is just common sense). Once you have completed the necessary training you will have access to the documentation available at the RAN website.

Book Week 2015: A-Z of Convicts in Van Diemen's Land

Book Week 2015

A-Z of Convicts in Van Diemen's Land by Simon Barnard is shortlisted by CBCA for the Eve Pownall Award for Information Books.

This information book focuses on the 73,000 convicts that landed and lived on Van Diemen's Land (now known as Tasmania) after being transported there by the British. It investigates how they lived, what they wore and other experiences.

Pig the Pug: Teaching Ideas

The story is about a selfish pug dog named Pig. He shares an apartment with a sausage dog called Trevor who sadly is always on the receiving end of Pig's bad temper. All Trevor wants is one toy of his own but Pig is determined that they are all his.

Snail and Turtle are Friends: Teaching Ideas

As August draws near teachers and librarians will have Book Week at the back of their minds. This is the first in a series of posts that will hopefully relieve the idea thinking and stress to have a starting point.

Grug Meets Literacy and Art

Most Australian children (including myself) grew up reading and loving the Grug series by Australian author, Ted Prior. The lovable top of Burrawang tree his adventures are engaging for all young children.

As these books have simple illustrations and limited text they are not intimidating to struggling readers. The following activity was actually done first by the teacher in the classroom next door to me a few years ago. She had the children first draw Grug and then draw a space background (as it coincided with the Book Week theme for that year) before the children cut out and glued on their Grug.

A Monster Wrote Me A Letter: Book Review

If a monster writes you letter out of the blue...what exactly should you do?
It's the only polite thing to do today...invite the monster over to play!