Celtic Knots : Colours and Shadework Art

Celtic Knot artwork that focuses on colour and shading. Read more at Miss Jenny's Classroom

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. View Post

Literacy Work Stations: Book Review

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

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

What’s it about?

This is comprehensive book which details, pictorially and with text, what literacy activities should be taught, the types of activities and tips about managing the work station concept. For those unfamiliar with work stations, these are small groups who work on different tasks for a set time before swapping to another. Each station usually focuses on a single skills.

The examples (especially photographs) are very helpful in conveying what is being written about. The author is obviously enthusiastic about teaching as it comes through in the tone. It is very comprehensive and covers all main areas of literacy for junior primary.

It it more geared to junior primary (in my opinion) focusing on those basic skills. The sheer volume of information can be a little overwhelming.

My Thoughts
I have to admit when I first got this book I was extremely enthusiastic and motivated. I spent hours taking notes about what I was going to change in my literacy program…and that was where it ended. The author does say that the activities should not take longer to make then for the kids to use but what I found was the daunting task of starting with nothing and trying to make something out of it.

The activity ideas are good and I will probably use some of them with my kids when they are about 4 years old and up but to me some of these activities seem more like ‘busy work’ and ‘fun’ rather than learning. Most activities would be difficult to assess in terms of how much impact it had on a child’s learning and some students would still struggle finding the tasks too easy/hard even with differentiation or stay on task.

I wanted to love this book but at the end of the day I found it interesting but after two years I still do not teach literacy with stations but have still had outstanding results. I recommend you borrow this first to ensure it meets your own classroom needs and your personal style of teaching.


Literacy Work Stations: Making Centers Work

Tadpole Blues: Music 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.


Song: Tadpole Blues
Artist: Peter Combe
Year: 1987
Nationality: Australian

change, life cycles, confusion

What’s it about? 
Tadpole Blues is a song about a tadpole who loves being a tadpole until he becomes unhappy as his body starts changing. The song describes the changes – such as growing legs, his tail shrinking, etc. – until he is finally a frog.

Peter Combe uses expression and emphasis to make the little tadpole narrating this tale sound very sad and confused. It explains metamorphosis in a simplistic way that even young children can understand. The tune is catchy and the chorus allows children to sing along.


The only thing I can think of is that at the end of the song the tadpole (now frog) has “more or less got use to it [being a frog]” and he does sound sad still. Very sensitive children may think that changing is scary or negative – though I listened to the song as a kids and never had that issue!



I really like how appealing the song is. It is simple. It is catchy. It is entertaining. It teaches (ever so simplistically) about frogs.  



Kari Bolt has a free set of a frog’s life-cycle available on TPT.

The Notebooking Nook has a free set of printable all about frogs available on TPT.

Peter Combe’s: Official Website    Official Facebook Page

   Tadpole Blues on iTunes


Lyrics and Sheet Music for Tadpole Blues

Musical Notes Clipart (c) Webweaver’s

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.

Swimming does not come naturally to all children. I know this because neither myself nor my brothers are particularly fond of swimming – we all have other activities we would much prefer to be doing. Also, some students struggle to learn to swim as they may not have the advantages of others – such as regular access to a public or private poor due to socio-economic or location factors.

Therefore it is important to acknowledge when students demonstrate a swimming skill. Not all will love laps, not all with like floating and there will always be at least one student who refuses to dive for rings or toy.

In response to these thoughts as well as memories of the years I have taken my class swimming only to have some students not receive a certificate (or worse yet receive the certificate with no skills ticked off) I sat down and created some that you can give to your students (or children if you homeschool).

They come in two formats – A4 size and A5 (there are 2 per page). The A4 will need to be trimmed but I can provide full page ones if you email after purchase.

Enjoy your summer and think about us that are shivering in the southern hemisphere!



The Doorbell Rang

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

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

What’s it about?

This is a story about some yummy cookies being made and how many the children are get. At first there are only two, but soon the doorbell rings…and more and more visitors come. How many cookies will they get each?

I like the simple format to this story. It doesn’t go into unnecessary details or dialogue. It features children who are different colours (important in any classroom so the children don’t always see ‘white’). Incorporating a mathematical element in a fun and engaging way,

I don’t mind the illustrators but they can come across as being a little outdated.

My Thoughts
This was a favourite book of a grade 2 class I taught. The simple, repetitive format helped to engage students who struggled with literacy. It is easy to create activities for this book and use at hand math resources (such as counters) that the students can use as the story progresses. I recommend this as a purchase if you teach regularly in junior primary classes.

The Doorbell Rang