Saturday, September 10, 2011

Our New Lanterns

We have been sprucing up our book corner with some new lanterns ...

We dipped long lengths of string into PVA glue and wrapped them around balloons 

Once dry, we painted the balloons
We popped the balloons and hung them from our light in book corner 

Easy peasy! :) 

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

The Long And The Short Of It

At the moment my children are very interested in rulers and measuring. They have been carrying rulers around the classroom and measuring anything of interest, particularly the beans we planted and the worms they found when making mud pies...

They have been comparing objects by length, identifying and recording numbers to 30 (and beyond in the case of a few boys who measured all our furniture with a measuring tape) and discussing the difference between centimetres and metres - All sparked by one boys interest in his dad's measuring tape which he brought into school for sharing!

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Creating With Wire

A while ago I collected some different images of artists work that I wanted to share with the children to expose them to new media and ways of expressing themselves.

Last week we talked about the wire sculptures by Johnas Borman and the children have been creating with wire ever since.

An Ant

A Dragon

A Flower

A Fly

A Dinosaur

A Dragon

In doing this the children have had to exercise a great deal of persistence as the wire did not always do what they wanted it to. Many children revisited their creations over a few days, experimenting with different ways to manipulate the wire and adding to their artworks. 

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Observational Drawing & Sculpture

My kids are still buzzing with excitement over creating their insect and reptile museum. One boy was particularly interested in a wasps nest he found in a library book recently. He studied it carefully, showed a few of his friends then decided to make one of his own to go into our museum. "But how will we make it?" he asked me puzzled. He went on to say that boxes weren't the right shape... maybe paper? I suggested he (and a few others who had been drawn into this discussion) draw it first to get a really good idea of what it looked like.

They chatted about what they noticed in the photograph of the wasps nest...
C- "It's kind of an oval shape like this (demonstrated with hands)"
E-"I see ... those black lines make it into sections"
W- "There's lots of holes for the wasps to sleep in"
C- "Yeah they are sort of in lines aren't they?" (the holes)
W- "What 's all that stuff around the outside? See all those lines?"
C- "I don't know but it looks like newspaper!"

C had noticed the large slab of clay, recently delivered to our classroom and suggested that this would be a good material to make the nest out of. 

Using their drawings as a guide, they pushed, pulled and punched the rectangular piece of clay into the shape they needed. Then used clay tools to help them achieve the necessary details...

Their wasps nest is currently being displayed in our museum. I realised I don't have a photo of the finished product to show you (I will post one soon) but it's all about the process right? 

Friday, August 5, 2011


A new topic has emerged in my class that has captured almost everyones interest. It all started when M and C made a spider house which inspired E to make a box of caterpillars  which in turn motivated Z and J to make a home for lizards. I displayed their creations on top of a low bookshelf and J commented that it looked like a 'bug museum'. I agreed and asked what else might be displayed in a bug museum. He announced that he was a bit of an expert on museums because he went to them a lot and asked for a large sheet of paper so that he could draw his ideas.

I asked the children to share what they know about museums and we looked at some photographs of museum displays. We noticed that all the displays had lots of information to go with them and came to the conclusion that maybe we should find out a bit more about bugs so we could also do this.

A small group of children went around with my flip camera and asked their peers firstly what they knew about bugs and then what they wanted to learn. They had some interesting questions which we will endeavour to find the answers to. If you have 2 minutes to spare, have a listen to some of the things they said. It's very cute...

Thursday, August 4, 2011


We have been creating abstract art using printing techniques... and enjoying an excuse to cover our hands in paint and feel it squishing through our fingers!

We dipped our fingers in thick, brightly coloured paint...

Painted all sorts of lines and dots straight onto the table top...

Lay paper over the top and gently smoothed...

Hey presto! We have created an abstract art print.

Sunday, July 31, 2011

Structuring Play

At my school, our 5 and 6 year olds are expected to have achieved certain literacy and numeracy benchmarks by the end of the year. I believe that the best way to do this is through small group teaching that is specifically tailored to individual children's learning needs and so for one hour each day we have a structured play time. This allows me to give the appropriate amount of time and attention to my small groups whilst the other children are engaged in independent play.

I started by introducing the children to a range of play icons (on cards) for them to choose from but I soon found that the children who loved construction would always choose to play in our construction area and not try their hand at anything else. I then decided to use this as an opportunity to expose my children to a range of activities that they might not otherwise try.

Now my children work in groups to progress through four activities that are different each day.

Here are some of the things we do during this time...

Puppet Plays

Buddy Reading

Writing Centre

During this time, my teacher aide supervises and assists the children when necessary and some days we have parents come in to play literacy or numeracy focussed games.

After much trial and error (and worrying about how I was going to achieve small group explicit teaching in a child friendly way) I am really happy with how structured playtime is working at the moment.

We spent a few weeks at the beginning of last term getting used to the new routine (during which time I didn't take groups) but the children are now self managing and seem to love trying out different activities.

Here's what I'm loving about our structured playtime...

  • The children are engaging in play based activities and aren't doing worksheets (Worksheets don't grow dendrites! as Marcia Tate says)
  • They are practicing the important skill of being self managing.
  • I am able to take small groups for focussed explicit teaching and am ensuring that children have the opportunity to work at their individual level to achieve their learning goals. 
  • As structured playtime only goes for 1 hour each day, the children aren't missing out on developing their interests through play or working on 'projects' which I am free to fully facilitate throughout the rest of the day.