Phonics Ping Pong

I found these ping pong balls crammed into the back of a cupboard. I have a vague recollection of finding them when I was unpacking my classroom, but I had forgotten all about them until now! They have mainly phase 3 sounds on, which explains why I stashed them. 

The children were immediately drawn to them, and within about thirty seconds they were being hurled around the classroom. I decided to channel the enthusiasm into something more purposeful. The children had to choose a sound and say it before they were allowed to throw it. There was a lot of self assessment going on, as children decided to choose another ball if they weren’t sure of the phoneme. 

They also surprised me by independently deciding to keep score. The tally marks show the balls that made it into the box, and there were cross marks for ones that missed. So that’s phonics, maths, gross motor skills, hand eye coordination, turn taking, negotiating and lots of laughs all in the one game!

Best of all, after a few minutes supervision my attention was drawn elsewhere (somehow mysteriously all of the boxes had fallen off of my small shelf!) but they kept playing and encouraging each other to read the sound. 

A very successful impromptu activity!

Pinterest and classrooms

I love Pinterest, I’m not going to lie. It’s one of the first places I check for ideas for creative activities, and I find it especially good for Fine Motor skills activities. 

However, in that way that all social media seems to do, it sometimes makes me feel inadequate. Even though I’m an outstanding teacher, the fact that my classroom doesn’t look like one of those beautifully tidy, neutrally hessian covered classrooms sometimes makes me feel a bit rubbish. I have to remind myself that I work in a large school over seas and think through all the challenges that brings. I can’t have a beautifully neutral classroom because redigning thirteen Reception classrooms is a challenge and a half. 

So when I went looking for ideas for my role play area for our topic of Fairy Tales this term I approached Pinterest with some trepidation. I saw some beautiful fairy tale castles. But they required a LOT of cardboard boxes (surprisingly hard to source in Kuwait) and a lot of adult involvement. I’m not even remotely crafty so I knew I’d find it difficult. The best way to approach this was to get the children to do it. So that’s exactly what I did. 


The castle definitely doesn’t look like anything I’ve seen on Pinterest but it’s definitely all child made. They made, cut and stuck up the bricks. They wanted to make a door, and a tower and a moat and a drawbridge. We had lots of discussions about how to approach the problems, and they used load of new vocabulary words. I’d count that as a successful EYFS lesson!

Trip to the Sea Club

Last week we went on a trip to The Sea Club. Despite it being a cloudy day it was almost the perfect trip! 

The beach was easy to get to from school, and had some nice covered areas for lunch bags and water bottles to be stashed. 

We let the children bring their own bucket and spade, which most of them did. They absolutely loved this trip! They were perfectly happy and content to dig and bury each other, make sand castles, and fill up their buckets. There was also a small climbing frame area which they enjoyed. 


To enhance the educational aspect I brought along some clipboards and pencils, as I’ve been really trying to encourage mark making this term! We wrote our names in the wet sand. There were lots of hearts and stars too! I also bought along some magnifying glasses, a couple of the girls were really intrigued by them, and some jumbo tweezers to pick up anything we found. 

The children were so chilled. Having enough space for all of them (we took five classes of 28 children!) really helped. There was very little squabbling over buckets, lots of great PSED skills being shown. I just wish I’d thought to bring some post its for observations! 

Updates on both life and school

So it’s bean a long time since my last post. A lot has changed, both schools and countries. I’m out in Kuwait now, which in terms of geography is pretty similar to Sharjah; lots of sand and lots of beige buildings. But the schools couldn’t be more different. My new school is enormous! I’m one of thirteen Reception classes. Sometimes I feel like a small cog in a big wheel, but I can definitely tell the difference now I’m working in an outstanding school. 

Of course there are good points and bad points: a school wide push on uniform presentation? Good! Winter uniform which has blazers, jumpers and ties for four year olds? I will admit this drives me slightly crazy. 

I enjoy the planning as well. It’s a good mix between having a structure (mostly for phonics and maths), and having the freedom to plan my own week’s activities based on my own class’s interests. There’s a big focus on Talk for Writing which I love and I’m finding so effective. 

I’m feeling inspired with teaching, and enjoying it so much I want to renew my focus on this blog. Mostly just for me, as a way to document my times teaching abroad, but also as a way to record what I’ve enjoyed most about the classrooms. 

Shape Pictures

It’s been a while since I’ve blogged. It’s been busy busy busy at school. Everything is winding down, graduation is on Thursday and then the children will be leaving early due to the heat and Ramadan. 

I’ve really been working on my independent activities recently. Mostly to make sure they are challenging and actually interest the children so they can access them without me. And then it allows me some time to play and hang out with the children. 
 
The frames are laminated paper with the middle cut out. I use these a lot for transient art and all sorts of other things. 

The children made some really complex pictures and then I was able to come in and further some learning by modelling and questioning. 

Playdough Aliens

Golden time is my favourite time of the week. It’s the time where I get to experience continuous provision and I always have so much fun. 

This was the last Thursday of term, party day, and my playdough was looking past its best (the AC and the heat so funny things to playdough) so I put googly eyes and sequins out for the children to make playdough aliens. They LOVED it so much and the language they were using was brilliant. 

They started talking about how one little girl’s alien was sad and I asked why. She said it was because he missed his mummy and couldn’t go home (the fact that we’d read ‘The Way Back Home’ by Oliver Jeffers the day before is not a coincidence!). So I asked how we could help him get home. They said they wanted to build a rocket so I grabbed some clipboards and headed to the carpet and started planning the rocket I was going to build. In true ABCdoes style the children followed and started working all together to build a rocket.

 

  

One boy in particular didn’t want to build with the duplo. He drew for me what he wanted to build, wrote a list of things he needed and asked what he could use to make it. I hauled out my junk modelling box and they all got to work making rockets. 

I had so much fun and the children did too. I managed to cover so many creative, language and PSED objectives (maths in continuous provision still scares me!). It makes me want to have golden time all day every day but alas the higher ups do not approve. It has inspired me to put a junk modelling table in my classroom which I’m sure they will love. 

  

Turkey Basters

 

These may be the best things I’ve ever bought. I got them just after Christmas in Wilkos for a pound each.

 The children love them. They call them “squeezers” and ask for them nearly every day. Today I put them out in the water box (as close as a water tray that I can get) with some bowls. I spent some time challenging the children to try to fill the bowls and make them sink. They loved it and there was some great capacity related language going on. They did not manage to make them sink, mostly because they kept tipping all the water out to fill them up again. 

They are great for fine motor skills. Some children use their whole hand and some use fingers in more of a pinching movement. 

In the past they’ve used them for putting water all over the floor and for watering plants. I want to use them for paint but I’m worried I might ruin them. 

Another brilliant idea that a boy had today was to take the rubber top off and make a “super long squeezer” by putting one vaster insde another. It was very popular; they all wanted a turn!