Thursday, 28 September 2017

Show and Tell for teachers too?

Hi all,

You may have noticed that the blog has been very quiet lately. Naturally, September has been very busy at school and I've had other priorities personally. One of these has been trying to do more art/crafts and have less screentime! As you can see, it's working!

Do you do Show and Tell in your school? We do and it's such a wonderful time of the week. The children love to share things that are special to them. I can understand people being against teachers joining in as they see it as a time where the children really take the lead. However, I've found it beneficial to join in and bring in my own item for Show and Tell every now and then. Here's why!

Firstly,  it's a great way to model the things you expect to see - eye-contact, speaking slowly, clearly and audibly (!), body language. 

Secondly, the children love to see a little insight into the teacher being "human!" This might afford them the opportunity to see a part of your life that would never crop up in class otherwise.

Thirdly, you can model your own achievements and how you have worked towards a goal. Maybe you've run a race and show them your medal. You can explain how much hard work went in to earning that. Perhaps you tell them about a new class you've tried and how you were nervous to try a new thing but you're glad you did.

Tomorrow I'm bringing in something I've been working on since going back to school - handwriting practice! I've been trying to teach myself calligraphy using brush pens. I'm currently on day 28 of practice and there has been a huge improvement. I thought this would be something nice to share with the children as many of them might feel inspired to work hard on improving their handwriting "just like Miss Downing" or maybe see that adults also have to work to achieve results! 

In case, you're curious, here's day 1 and day 28 of practice!

Thursday, 14 September 2017

IB PYP Unit of Inquiry Bulletin Board Display Kit

Well hello there! If you've seen my classroom reveal post, you'll know that I've added lots more information about my unit of inquiry to the central display board. Here it is:

I've created a display kit that I can use throughout the year and just switch in and out the necessary attitudes, Learner Profile attributes, key concepts, etc. I spent a lot of time making this and now have a kit that you can purchase from my TPT store. Here's a preview of what's in it. Scroll down below the picture to read about the full contents!

The kit contains headings (bunting-style) for:

  • Lines of Inquiry
  • Key Concepts
  • Transdisciplinary Theme
  • Central Idea
  • Learner Profile
  • PYP Attitudes
  • Approaches to Learning (as requested)
  • Student Work (as requested)

There are flashcards for each of the 6 Transdisciplinary Themes (both versions of organise/organize are included).

There are also mini posters of the key concepts, Learner Profile attributes and PYP attitudes. The clip art on these is the same as some of my other PYP resources. As everybody's central ideas and lines of inquiry are different, I haven't included a template for these.

If you are interested in purchasing this kit, pop over to my TPT store!

Here are some more pics of how they look printed and laminated!

Tuesday, 12 September 2017

Watermelon Flipsticks for Classroom Management

Hi all,

I came across this idea on Mrs Osborn's Instagram. These watermelon "flipsticks" are made for choosing children at random. You can then turn them upside down and it's very clear to see who has been picked already.

A handy little organisational tool!

Tuesday, 5 September 2017

Classroom Reveal: Grade 3 PYP classroom

Hi there,

It's that time of the year again! The children in our school start tomorrow and the classroom is finally ready to go. Here's a photo tour around it. As I am in the same room with the same grade level, I've kept many things from last year. 

First off, here's the bulletin board for our first unit of inquiry. I've kept last year's idea of displaying the transdisciplinary themes on superhero style badges on a cape. However, I've added lots to the unit board this year. PYP teachers, look out on a blog post about then soon.

Next, I want to show you my teacher area. (Excuse the blurred out class list - it's much prettier without the smudges!). If you're interested in making those pom poms or the tassel and pom pom garland, check out my tutorials here and here. 

I particularly love the little South Park version of me on my name-sign. I made it using this South Park avatar creator. Here's a close up!

Here are some wider shots:

This is the main display outside the classroom. (I didn't take a photo this year as I've kept the same superhero theme going!):

Tomorrow, each of the children will colour a superhero and write some details about themselves on badges. I'll add those to the board afterwards. Here are some pics of how one of last year's superheroes turned out!

I still kept some more superhero accents around the room.

This Tiger basket that I decorated with mix and match clipart. Naturally the two glue sticks on the back didn't survive so I've just stuck with the circular "superglue" sign this year.

Of course, I couldn't resist labeling the bins superhero-themed too.

Here is our behaviour management clip chart (and the cute colouring pencil desk tidys I made over the summer - I predict they won't last more than a week!!):

Keeping the Learner Profile in context, I added this "Are we being principled?" sign above our behaviour management clip chart.

Here's our magic maths words display:

My school is having a big focus on problem-solving in maths this year so I wanted to make a more prominent maths vocabulary board in the classroom. This is the basic board. The children will suggest words (e.g. add, total, plus, more) to put in each section as the year goes on. 
Title banner: Sparklebox
Symbols: Fun for Learning
Adhesive googly eyes and ribbon: Tiger

I've also kept this editing board:

The giant pencil was free from The Teacher Wife and the "capital letters detective" display was made by me (and is available in my TPT store).

Next is the calendar/birthday board. This year I added on our class jobs on either side. The children will each have their name on a peg so they can be easily moved each week.

Owl-themed classroom birthdays display: Halle Hird
Owl-themed calendar set:Apple Girl Amber 
Header: Sparklebox
All other elements were made by me.  

Reflection / reading area:

I've got 6 sheets in the reflection area - collaborative group reflection, peer assessment, 2 stars and a wish, self-assessment of understanding, PYP Learner Profile goal-setting sheets and PYP attitude goal-setting sheets. You can get these from here if you like. Each child has an A5 sized plastic envelope in the box in which they keep their reflection sheets for the year.

Wonder wall and PYP Transdisciplinary Skills

I made all parts of the wonder wall and the skills posters. If you're in an IB school and want the skills, you can get them from here.

I hope you enjoyed this tour! 

Saturday, 2 September 2017

Healthy School Lunches for Teachers

Anybody else get stuck in a rut of making the same school lunches over and over? Well here are a few ideas to help you to add more variety to your day! For some of these, you might need to go easy on the dressings to make them healthier!


Raw veg
Cereal bars
Rice cakes with peanut butter
Rye bread with hummus
Rye bread with guacamole
Oven-roasted chickpeas
Trail mix

Feta, olives, cherry tomatoes, cucumber, rocket
Caprese salad with grilled peppers
Gorgonzola, pear, walnuts, cucumber, rocket (don't knock it til you've tried it!)
Beetroot, chickpea, spinach
Sweet potato, lentil and feta
Three bean salad
Roasted broccoli, chickpea and rocket
Cucumber, quinoa salad
Mandarin orange spinach salad with chicken and lemon honey ginger dressing
Blueberry, feta, spinach salad
Lebanese lenil salad
Apple, pecan, feta
Avocado, mango, tomato
Mediterranean lentil salad
Sticky lime chicken salad (marinate the chicken overnight in the juice of 2 limes, a tablespoon of honey, a tablespoon of olive oil and two teaspoons of thyme . then bake in a preheated oven for 30 mins) You can use the chicken for dinner and then chop some up to make a salad. For the salad I normally add iceberg lettuce, sweetcorn and cherry tomatoes.

Dinner (eat the night before and bring a portion to school the next day):
Slimming World's bacon and brocolli pasta salad
Thai peanut wraps
The Happy Pear 5 Min dahl (with pittas or naan bread) 
The Happy Pear veggie paella
Tex Mex pasta salad
Avocado pasta salad
Caprese pesto pasta salad
Brown rice salad
Curried rice with raisins, cilantro and chickpeas
Peanut, lime and riced cauliflower salad
Roasted squash with spiced lentils, feta and pine nuts

Tuesday, 29 August 2017

Editable Behaviour Management Tools

Hello there,

I hope you're surviving back to school season!

I've made some behaviour management tools, designed for one-on-one use with a child to tackle challenging behaviours by setting goals and reflecting on their behaviour. They are editable PowerPoint files so you can modify text, images, tables, etc. to suit your child's needs. 

There are a few different themes. Each set contains:

  • instructions
  • a behaviour frequency record
  • an example of a completed behaviour frequency record
  • 2 fully editable charts
  • 2 editable token sheets
  • a cover sheet and goal-setting/reflection sheet to make a personalised behaviour record book
Click on the images below to grab them from my TPT store for just $2 (roughly €1.70).

Thursday, 24 August 2017

DIY Pom Pom and Tassel Garland (with tutorials)

Well hello there,

Unfortunately I have an affliction. The first things I purchased as soon as I landed in Ireland for a visit home were three balls of wool! I wanted to make a tassel garland for my teacher notice board and these colours were very me. (The first thing I bought in my hometown were matching packs of tissue paper; more on that to follow!)

I saw a video on how to make little pom poms using a fork. Then I decided that I'd decorate my garland with both pom poms and tassels. Here's how it looked in my classroom. (Note the tissue paper flowers!)

And here are tutorials on how I made them.


Mini Pom Poms:
You will need: wool, scissors, fork
1. Wrap the wool around the fork lots of times. Make sure not to go too close to the tips of the fork and also to leave space so you can see the holes.
2. Cut a short length of wool and thread it through the middle hole in the fork. Tie it in a loose knot. Slide the wool off the fork, pull the wool tighter and tie two knots.
3. Snip the loops all around the edge of the pom pom.
4. Give the pom pom a "haircut" to tidy up any scraggly bits.
5. Fluff it out et volià! 

You will need: Wool, scissors, a thin box or book
1. Wrap the wool around the book or thin box several times. (I did it 30 times.)
2. Slide the wool off the box.
3. Cut a short length of wool and place it a third / a quarter of the way down the wool (depending on how you want your tassel to look).
4. Tie that strand tightly.
5. Snip the middle of the longer loops. Give it a quick "haircut" to even up the length of the strands.
6. Pull one end of the strand used in step 4 through the loops at the top and then tie it on top. 

I've also previously written a blog tutorial on how to make the paper flowers. Click here to view it!

Sunday, 20 August 2017

Dip Starter Pack Giveaway

Following lots of positive feedback on my "Dip Tips" blog post, I've created a Dip Starter Pack. I've been working very hard these summer holidays to save probationary teachers lots of time, effort and money. I've also gone a bit overboard in buying shabby chic and bullet journal style clip art! You'll see that theme running through the pack! :)

To celebrate back to school season, I'm having a giveaway on the A Crucial Week Facebook page. If you want to win a pack, pop over there. Scroll down to see what's in the pack - many of the parts are available individually and lots are suitable for non-dip teachers!

Here's what's in the 169 page pack: 
(the preview picture below doesn't show everything! Scroll down to read the full contents.)

  • Example short-term (weekly) plans
  • Example long-term (termly) plans
  • Example cuntais míosúla
  • 9 cover sheets for your planning and assessment folders
  • Weekly planning checklists (3 sheets, one per term)
  • Editable checklists and information sheets (e.g. homework record, information for substitute teachers, birthday record, etc.)
  • Teacher calendar sheets (August 2017 - June 2018)
  • Editable international Events Calendar 2017-2018
  • A PDF copy of my "Dip Tips" blog post

  • Superhero-themed behaviour management tools including an editable token chart, token sheets, an editable behaviour record cover, goal-setting/reflection sheets, a behaviour frequency record with an example and instructions)
  • Two Stars and a Wish self-assessment sheets
  • Self-assessment display based on Marzano's Levels of Understanding
  • Self-assessment sheet based on Marzano's Levels of Understanding

  • Laethanta na Seachtaine display
  • Dathanna display
  • Prionta sa Timpeallacht (28 flashcards, 4 posters)
  • Na h-Ábhair Scoile circular display
  • Visual timetable pack (with editable cards)
  • WALT and WILF signs (for sharing objectives and assessment criteria)

Many of these resources are available individually (paid/free) in my TPT store. The total of the paid resources is $18.50. This bundle allows you to save $6.50 as it's priced at $12 (that's roughly €10). The example weeklies, termlies and cuntais míosúla are not sold separately. Those are a bonus just for this bundle! So, in summary, for a tenner (not a massive investment!) you'll get 169 pages of example plans, planning and assessment templates and classroom displays. 

Here's a closer look at just some of the things that are inside. Click on the images if you'd like to purchase these separately! Many are suitable for non-dip-doing teachers too!

These calendar sheets (not just for dip teachers!):

 These bullet-journal inspired, washi-tape filled checklists to help you keep track of your planning (and fulfill your pretty stationery needs!):

These editable sheets for your teacher folder including a birthday tracker, editable information sheets for substitute teachers, lots of editable checklists that you could use for homework, phonics, spelling test records, recording specific objectives. (Again, not just for the dip!):


These pretty dip folder cover sheets (9 of them in total!). I also have editable versions in different styles for anybody not doing the dip:

These superhero-themed behaviour management tools for tackling individual children's behaviour. This pack includes a fully editable behaviour chart with editable tokens, a behaviour frequency record with an example and instructions and a cover sheet and goal-setting/reflection sheet to make a behaviour record book (FYI, my dip inspector loved seeing that record book!):

This prionta sa timpeallacht pack that contains 28 flashcards and 4 posters:

This dathanna display:

These visual timetable cards (includes editable cards):

 These circular chalkboard-style subject posters as Gaeilge:

This self-assessment chart based on Marzano's Levels of Understanding (with corresponding self-assessment sheets): Here's how it looks in my classroom!