Friday, 30 March 2012

Loving these landforms!

I have just discovered a brilliant idea on Monica's blog: The Schroeder Page.

We are not doing landforms next term in Geography but after seeing this cute landform booklet and the other creative ideas on Monica's post, I am wishing the Australian government would hurry up and release its Geography curriculum!
For more great ideas about geography, have a look at this My World Around Me FREEBIE!

Exploring Charlotte's Web

I love, love, love this book! I can't wait to read Charlotte's Web to my kids next term!
We are doing a local history study with a focus on the annual show that is held at the quaint, country-style showgrounds in our area.
To get us in the mood for going to the show, I am going to read Charlotte's Web to my class.
Charlotte's Web is the perfect opportunity for me to help my students develop a little more "staying power" when sitting on the carpet - one of my goals for them next term.
Charlotte's Web also lends itself to many great literacy activities!
I am busily reading the novel (again) and trying to come up with innovative and engaging activities to inspire and motivate my children.
I am developing a series of activities for people who want to use Charlotte's Web to address English core learning outcomes. We are implementing the new Australian Curriculum so I am using these standards as a guide, but Charlotte's Web is such a universal favourite that I am sure the activities will be useful for many teachers.
I am keen to develop activities that are more than just worksheets. No more "death by blackline master!"
The activities for the first chapter of Charlotte's Web are discussion, drama, cooperative work, display making etc.

I plan to include vocabulary words and comprehension questions for every chapter but then have a unique focus for each chapter as well.
Since in the first chapter, Fern is pleading with her father to spare the piglet's life, I thought this was the perfect opportunity to play around with persuasive texts. It is still a whole year until my students have to face the dreaded NAPLAN test but this is a great opportunity to get them started in thinking about persuasive texts. Developing comprehension skills never hurt anyone either!
The other key focus in this chapter is speaking verbs. In the English curriculum for Year 2, students need to look at how words are used to show gradation of feelings. E.B. White uses some great "saying verbs" in chapter one to describe the way that poor Fern is pleading with her father!
Download the Chapter 1 Activities for Exploring Charlotte's Web free!
Please, please, please let me know what you think. I would like to be developing activities that people find useful so feedback and suggestions are most welcome.
I hope you and your students love Charlotte's Web as much as I do!

Make an Easter Bilby Basket!

This is a really cute Easter craft that I have been making for so many years that I can't remember where I first saw the idea.
I love it because it is uniquely Australian and environmentally friendly!
It would be great to make as a craft if you were studying Easter around the World or Australia or Endangered Animals.

From a milk carton...

to a bilby basket!

The Bilby is an Australian marsupial. It is also known as the rabbit-eared bandicoot for obvious reasons. If you would like to read more about the bilby, my class wrote a post about it on our class blog.
Making the bilby basket is very simple. It requires only one milk carton per child and a pair of scissors and a stapler. My children filled their baskets with recycled shredded paper.
I usually have the lines drawn on for the students. Older children can do it themselves but for my Year 2s, it is easier if I do it myself.
We worked with our buddies in Year 5 to do this activity. They all had a lot of fun.
I have made a video that shows how to make this craft.

For other great freebies and ideas for April, check out The Cornerstone for Teachers too!

Have fun and Happy Easter!

Thursday, 29 March 2012

The Last Supper

Here is another great idea I borrowed from Catholic Icing.

We had to collect a mountain of egg cartons and then one of the lovely mums from my class took them home one weekend and joined them together for me so that the bit the kids did would go more smoothly.

I downloaded the sheets from Catholic Icing and the kids painted them with the water colour paints in the pallettes. Not much mess and nice bright colours. Plus they had a lot of fun!

This afternoon they cut out the characters and attached them to the carton in order using kid's PVA glue.
This photo is not of the best one, but the colours are nice and bright!

They had a lot of fun cutting and gluing and talking about who was who at the dinner table. I don't expect that they will remember all of the characters but it was a fun way for them to think about the disciples and to discuss the Last Supper.

It took about an hour of cutting, gluing and cleaning up time this afternoon. A different Easter craft - a nice chang from the stock-standard bunny colouring-in sheet!

We didn't have quite enough egg cartons so some children did a "2D version". Great incidental maths revision!
Here is the 2D adaption if you don't want to collect 48 egg cartons. (and I have to work out how to rotate the picture but I'm in a hurry and my brain is worn out - sorry).

Happy Easter!

Tuesday, 27 March 2012


I stumbled across this really great idea for learning about adjectives by Megan from Mrs Wheeler's First Grade Tidbits.
She used fillable plastic eggs (available from Spotlight in Australia) and gave one to each child.
The children had to take the eggs home and find an object to put in the egg. They had to write three adjectives that would describe their object and then the other children play a guessing game to determine what is in the egg.
I have made a worksheet that I will have my students complete as a record and also as a display.

A lot of my children were having trouble saying "adjective" but now that we are saying "adj-EGG-tive" they are starting to make the idea stick in their minds.
It is a great idea to keep them interested in grammar in the lead up to Easter!
Only three more days until holidays!

Here is a photo of the adj-EGG-tives on my back board. Not the most inspiring display ever but it is the last week of term and I just wanted to get them up in a hurry. Maybe someone can do this in their room and post a much more exciting photo.

I'm adding this link to Kindergarten Lifestyle's Easter Egg Hunt idea, because this is another great educational idea for plastic eggs and I want to be able to find it again next year!
Her idea is to have an Easter Hunt but she puts numbers in the eggs for the children to find, then they bring them to her and have to tell her the number before she gives them the chocolate. You could easily make this activity easier or harder or make it a revision of anything you wanted to review. What a simple but creative idea!

Monday, 19 March 2012

An Easter Rooster?

Today we looked at the Holy Week Story: Peter disowns Jesus.
In this story, Peter hears a rooster crowing and is reminded that Jesus had warned him that before the rooster crowed twice, Peter would have denied knowing Jesus three times.
I wanted a simple but memorable activity for my students to do while they reflected on the story and I am trying to avoid "death by blackline master" in my class.
A pile of paper plates left over from a lifecycle craft activity provided the inspiration for our roosters. Because I didn't give them a template, they each have their own quirky character!

Each child used half a paper plate as the "body" for their rooster, and then (loosely copying my model) they attached paper and card to the semi-circle to create their own rooster.
Once they had designed and created their rooster, they selected three feather to attach for the tail. The three feathers reminded the students of the three times that Peter disowned Jesus.
We also watched this You Tube clip of a puppet show. This was good because it retold some of the other events we had talked about on previous days too, but this time from Peter's perspective.

When they sat on the carpet this afternoon at the end of the day, we recapped the story. I was happy with the level of detail they were able to recall from the story and am hoping they will retell the story with as much enthusiasm when they took their roosters home with them.

12 Stories of Holy Week

In the lead up to Easter, we are investigating the Holy Week stories in Year 2. By the end of the term, I am hoping that my students will be able to retell the key events of Holy Week and be able to reflect on some of the messages in these stories.
I identified 12 key stories from Holy Week and have been retelling the stories in different ways each day and revising the key events with the students using a simple PowerPoint presentation that I made and some "Holy Week eggs" - based on the brilliant idea from Catholic Icing. I forgot to take photos of my eggs so I will have to do that later and add them to this post.
Other things I have done (or will be doing) to present the stories:
* Songs - Hymns, kids praise songs and songs from Jesus Christ Superstar which tell about key events.
* Videos - mostly from You Tube - some of them are better quality than others. They loved the Ollie the Donkey video for Palm Sunday.
* Craft - Palm Sunday Leaves, Rooster craft (for Peter disowns Jesus), Last Supper craft (from Catholic Icing)
* Activities - wordsearches, drawing responses
* Experiences/ Role Play - Palm Sunday parade, Washing feet, Passover meal - tasting, Stations of the Cross
* Stories - reading versions from Children's Bibles, retellings from picture books, reading from the Bible

I have made some cards that match the PowerPoint slide I have been using and I will use these with my students for them to practise sequencing and retelling the stories.

So far my students have been enjoying the activities for each story. I hope this increases their understanding of the true meaning of Easter.

Monday, 12 March 2012

Life without a computer

My laptop has decided to stop working. With a bit of luck the fantastic people at the Apple hospital will be able to save it but in the mean time I have been experiencing life without a computer.
I can't say I like it. I am missing out on so many great ideas and I haven't been able to blog.
Yesterday I couldn't bear it any longer so I went and bought an iPad to get me through until my computer issue is solved.
Typing is slower and I can't work out how to put images in but the iPad does seem to be able to manage most tasks that I would normally use the computer to complete.
I have found some really cool apps so I can't wait to get to school tomorrow and try them out with my kids!