Write away! 

I began writing this on a facebook thread and then decided to devote a blog post to it. 

If you’re anything like me you get to this time of year and begin to panic about your children entering year one and whether they’ll be academically ready for the jump. I see lots of writing being posted around various facebook sites, and think crikey I’m not sure my children would write at that standard consistently without Suppprt. Of course I have a handful of children who are exceeding, I also have a little sprinkling of children who are emerging. Of course I have because children come to me at very different starting points both physically and academically. 

What we do instill in our children is a love and a real WANT to write! This hasn’t happened over night, it has taken hard slog, persistence and a few tears (Yep that’s just from me!!) 

We have massively raised the profile of writing… So how have we done it? 

First of all we got rid of the writing table? WHAT?  I hear you shout! 

I observed who was going into the area, and what they were doing. It tended to be a small group of girls, who write and colour the same things each day. I knew as long as I provided them with the resources they needed they would write anywhere. It was my lower ability boys and middle ability girls that weren’t choosing to write. We did lots of chatting both as adults and talked to the children and came up with lots of ideas to help raise the profile. Here are the things we’ve trialed (some were more successful than others!) 

We filled copious amounts of Pringles tubes with lots of lovely mark making tools 

 
We left out lining paper in each area  

Mark making tools very easily accessible 

  

Each child has a balloon with their name on it hanging on a washing line, every time they do a piece of writing (however long or short) they add a paper chain piece to their balloon. This is a fab way for adults in the setting to see which children are writing/mark making independently and those who need a little more support. 

We also make a BIG deal about celebrating our writing. If children would like to share their work they pop it on my chair and at the end of each session we play “Celebrate” https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=3GwjfUFyY6M  (but have changed the lyrics to “Celebrate good writing today!”) my colleagues who walk past think we’re barking but the kids love it, and that’s the main thing! 

If you were to ask any of my children where they could write they’d tell you “ANYWHERE!”

  
During our focus writing time the children are grouped weekly by ability. The groups are very fluid and children are placed according to their next steps in writing. The group decide together WHAT  they want to write, WHO they want to write for WHAT they want to write with (crayons, chalk, felt tips, pens, water and paint brush, wands, kungfu sticks!)  WHAT they want to write on (plain paper, coloured, template, paper cut into a shape, lining paper, A3, Tarmac etc etc) 

 
(We use this sheet to evidence what children have written so we can keep a record of genre. I have taken children’s names out for obvious reasons) The notes section is great when it comes to report writing.  

 

I create an ethos within my classroom where EVERY MARK MATTERS! I want my children to have a love of writing that comes from within, I want them to WANT to write because they love it, not just because a grown up has told them! So far so good! I feel a tingly warm fuzzy feeling when I see my gorgeous gaggle led on their tummies writing on clip boards! Please don’t think I am some miracle worker, believe me it has been work in progress but I am delighted in saying that all of the things we’ve tweaked have had a huge impact on giving out children a love of writing x 

  

I’m the king of the castle! 

 Today was a grand day… 

We have recently had new clever touch screens fitted. Guess who “bagsied” the box? Yep you’ve guessed it… Me! 

I left it in our deconstructed role play this morning and for the first session just observed the role play using this box. 

During our 2nd session I decided to join my little cherubs in the role play, and model some creative thinking and imaginative play. The children told me they wanted to make a castle…. 

One little girl decided to draw a picture of what a castle looks like. This was to form the basis of our plan.

There was lots of chat about 

  • moats
  • Drawbridges 
  • Kings 
  • Queens
  • Doors 
  • Windows with bars
  • Look outs 
  • Enemies
  • Baddies
  • Guns
  • Cannons 

  
The children found the cardboard too tricky to cut so told me to “find something dangerous” to cut the card! I decided to use a saw from the DT cupboard. In an ideal world I would have preferred them to use the saw, but as I hadn’t risk assessed this with them prior to this I thought it best to take the lead! (Note to self do this for Sept!) 

They directed me, and were very explicit on how it should be done (I have to admit that at times I did find this tricky- I had to remind myself a couple of times that this was in fact their castle and not mine!) 

  
Unfortunately lunch time called and we had to abort play for a while. What this did enable me to do was root out from the depths of my cupboard our “castle role play box” this delightful box is a treasure trove full of anything a king/queen would need when residing in a magnificent abode! 

My gorgeous TA’s also added lining paper to the outside of the castle so to encourage fresh mark making opportunities. 

I adored standing back and watching play develop as their confidence and ideas grew. I feel happy that I have taughtots of new facts today about castles that my little brood didn’t know about when they arrived at school this morning. 

  
Did they know they were learning? Did they heck! Did they have fun, and drive the learning forward themselves? ABSOLUTELY!!! 

   

Just a minute! 

For those of you that have read the “All about me page” you’ll know that my favourite saying is “Hang on a minute!” 

  
I say it all the time… 

I say it to my kids…

I say it to my hubby…

I say it to my colleagues… 

I’d be surprised if I didn’t say it in my sleep! 

I am making a new “Mid year resolution!” 

I’m going to say “I’ll give you a minute”

  
I’ll give you a minute of my time, instead of putting you off! I’m going to sit with my kidlets when they say “Can you play mine craft with me” 

“Can you come and play cricket?”

“Can you read me a story?” 

“Can we do some baking?” 

“Can we get the paints out?”

“Can we make something out of the recycling?” 

“Can we go to the skate ramps?”

Sometimes I’m busy doing “stuff” that could just wait…

Stuff that would wait until my lovely lot  are in bed

I don’t want to look back in 20 years and wish I had those extra minutes, I want them now!!! 

So here is the new “I’ll give you a minute” me! 

Welcome to the party! 

  

Physical Phonics

Children learn best by doing… We all know that. In my teaching/modelling of skills I try to make my sessions as active as possible. I hate sitting still, so I can only imagine how tricky it is if you are  four or five! (My mind starts to wander after about 7minutes flat!!!)

I “borrowed” this idea I think from a Twitter friend. 

Basically I used a sharpie pen to write our weeks digraph sound onto balls…

   

Our session started with me throwing the balls around our outdoor area and the Chdn running around to collect a ball. They needed to show me the ball and tell me the digraph before throwing it into the tray! 

Game two… Same as above but once they had told me the digraph they had to hold this in their heads, and go and write it on their white board! 

Game three… Two Teams- each player has to run to end of assault course, read the digraph, then go and root in the tray to find the matching digraph and roll it down the tubes. At the end of the game we looked in the tray and counted up how many correct balls ea h team had! (We realised we get a little confused between ‘ie’ and ‘oi’ 

   
   A great phonics session was had by all. 

I loved the fact that later in our “free explorer time” I saw my little phonics group teaching other children in the class! 

Fairy doors and other sprinkles of woodland magic… 

Just a quicky tonight… 

This morning we went for a little walk in the woods (“ahhhh can’t we take our scooters” came the cries!!!) 

They only needed a little persuasion to leave the wheels behind! 

We came across a huge tree that had obviously been uprooted in a recent storm, this made an excellent climbing frame, it was huge!  


The roots were fascinating and were a great talking point for the Kidkets! 

Imagine the squeals of pure delight as we came across this…  

    
“I knew it….there are such things as woodland fairies came the cries!” 

We then watched the fairies dancing on the leaves (the rain!) my parents used to get me to do the same when I was a little girl! 

There is something quite magical about being in a forest under the thick canopy of trees whilst it is tipping it down! We were happy to be outdoors- “A little bit of rain never hurt anyone” 

Did it?!?!? 

Deconstructed role play 

Many of you will know I have written about this before…

I have a real passion and innate desire to allow children to be free in their own creativity. 

In our setting gone are the days where we create a Gruffalo cave (I’m not being funny… How many gruffalo caves have you been in? Me neither and even if I had I’m not sure what play I’d do in there?) I hold my hands up and say that I used to be that teacher that would print off a load of key words, spend hours laminating them and stick them up in “MY” role play area, and expect the Kidkets to sit with a clip board and write them down, or read them and use them in their conversation! Of course they didn’t use them… All that was happening was a big old waste of a few hours spent at the laminator! 

What I do do is spend my weekends trawling round various supermarkets and shops asking for boxes so that I can provide my children with a great range of different types, sized, shaped boxes that can be whatever the heck they like! 

Today was one of those days my heart felt happy, and a few goose bumps appeared on my arms! (Ok it doesn’t happen every day- but you know that feeling when it does!)

I looked over to our role play and this is what greeted me…  

  
I literally whooped and cheered! I think  I perhaps made a few children jump with fright in the process! (Oops- surely they are used to this crazy lady by now!!)  

I was totally blown away by the creativity, craftsmanship and collabation that had gone into this design. Not only had they cut the paper into a flag shape, drawn the skull and cross bones, attached it to the mast (big tube) tied the mast onto the box with string! But they also presented their plan!  

   

“We decided what we wanted it to be first” they said “So we drew it!”

And there we have it… Creativity in its simplest form!!

Story Trail 

This week our text has been “The hungry Caterpillar” by the marvellous Eric Carle

On Monday we carried out a story trail… For those of you that haven’t ever experienced one of these here’s how it works… 

  1. Photo copy pics from the text
  2. Place copies of each picture in separate baskets (ideally outside)
  3. Children get into pairs 
  4. Zoom around the trail collecting pics from various baskets
  5. Place pictures in correct order
  6. Retell the story In sequence (noting any parts of the story they are missing!) 

                  So what learning has taken place?

  • Great communication and language skills
  • Turn taking 
  • Making relationships 
  • Sharing ideas
  • Sequencing 
  • Problem solving
  • Resilience 
  • Counting 1:1 correspondence 
  • Story telling
  • Retelling events 

Did they know they were learning? Did they heck! Did they have high levels of involvement and enjoyment? ABSOLUTELY!