Little Miss Teacher is a place where those of us in the classroom can share our ideas, resources and experiences. We can also have a good old moan and share some of those funny little things our children say!


Sunday, October 30, 2005

Parents - 10 Tips On Hearing Your Child Read

I have come across a useful webpage which we can direct parents to or print out for them. It is on the TopMarks site and lists 10 tips on hearing your child read.

I know we all tell parents about this regularly, but it never hurts to remind them.

I have posted a link to another useful resource for parents, Help Your Child Discover, on the Primary Teacher UK blog.


Science Experiments Online

I have come across a nice online science investigation page at The Science Explorer. It has links to may fun science activities like Bubbularium and Secret Bells.

The pages list the materials needed, instructions and a 'what's going on' part, explaining the science behind the results in language simple enough for KS2 children. The investigations are simple, quick and fun.

What I really like about it is the layout of the instructions - they will be great for teaching instructions in English lessons, making a nice cross-curricular link. Do look out for American spellings though!


Saturday, October 29, 2005

Reading Comprehension Strategies

In a recent thread on the TES Boards, I have had many requests from people for a copy of my Reading Comprehension Strategy Checklist. I thought I would post it here for you all to download if you want to.

It is by no means complete. It simply lists the main strategies on which we are focusing this year in guided reading and reciprocal reading.

Download and alter it to suit your own needs. I will be posting more on reading strategies soon. It's my favourite subject at the moment (and my children's too!)


commenting and trackback have been added to this blog.

Poetry Teaching

I am just about to plan for a block of poetry and thought I would share two very useful websites with you.

Poetry Class is an excellent site formed by the Poetry Society and DFES. They have guidance on how to assess poetry, a Poem a Term link with a poetry related to the poetry objectives for each term in Years 1 - 6 and loads to links to kid's poetry on the internet.

The other useful site is the poetry section on Literacy Lessons. It has lesson ideas for each year group from Y3 upwards and explains how to use poetry in guided reading and shared reading and writing.

If anyone else knows of useful sites, please post them here. I may even share the odd ode with you all later!!! hehehe


Friday, October 28, 2005


Regular visitors will have noticed that I have removed the Brain Breaks post. The reason for this is that I have found out that the resource I had mentioned was not the work of a fellow teacher wishing to share their resources, but actually taken from a commercially published scheme by Chris Henshaw called 'Thinking out of the Box'. Thus, emailing it to people would be breaking copyright laws.

My sincerest apologies go to Chris. I would not have offered the resource had I known, I realise how much hard work goes into making these things and how unfair it is. The file was sent to me by a teacher, contained no copyright information/logo's etc, so I assumed it to be her own work which she was happy to share. I have learned a valuable lesson.

I have also learned to be cautious from this experience. I am all for sharing resources, anything to make our lives as teachers easier has to be good. However, people seem to be abusing this type of community by claiming work to be their own when it isn't.

All of the resources available to download from this blog are my own work. I am happy for you all to use them in the classroom. I have them here and it is no trouble to me to let others use them. It is nice to feel like I have been of use to someone. I would hate to think that anyone would actually claim the resources to be their own or try to make money out of them by trying to sell them.

Gareth Pitchford has posted about this in his
Primary Resources Blog this week. People have actually been trying to sell the free downloads from Primary Resources on Ebay!

If this type of thing carries on, the free resources on the internet will dry up. People will stop offering them. This will make more work for us.

Please be cautious when sharing resources and anyone with a good knowledge of copyright law, I would love to learn more, so please leave a comment.


Thursday, October 27, 2005

Primary Extra

Gareth Pitchford, the owner of the amazing Primary Resources website, is launching his brand new site, PRIMARY EXTRA, on Friday.

The first resource to be available on Primary Extra is an entire teaching pack, Greg Arious and the Lexicons, which you can purchase as an online download or CD.

The pack contains a lovely Flash presentation of the story, colour and black and white PDF files so you can produce hard copies of the story, a comprehensive teacher guide and loads and loads of activities to use in class.

It can be used throughout KS2 (years 3-6) and also links to the free resources available for download on Primary Resources should you need to extend or reinforce any of the concepts. (Although, I doubt you would need to as there are so many activities included!)

What I really like about the pack is that it can either be used as a whole unit of work or dipped into for the odd lessons here or there. All of these possibilities are explained clearly in the teacher guide.

You can find out about the hard work Gareth has put into this resource on the Primary Resources Blog, which is also full of fantastic links for teachers.

Below is a brief description taken from the new site:

'Greg Arious and the Lexicons' has been designed to help teachers introduce the concept of synonyms and to demonstrate the use of a thesaurus to Key Stage 2 children.

It can also be used as a focus when looking at lots of other topics including different types of words (nouns, verbs, adjectives), antonyms (opposites), dialogue words and onomatopoeia.

Tuesday, October 25, 2005

Passport To The World - Useful Geography Websites

We have just finished our QCA topic, 'Passport to the World', and I thought I would mention a few websites which we found really helpful.

The first is Fact Monster, which has useful information on lots of subjects actually, but the Atlas section is excellent. As well as giving country facts, you can zoom in on the maps and save and print them. We found this useful for finding easy maps to use in PowerPoints. It also has news headlines and quizzes. (For more great kids news sites, see the posts on Primary Teacher UK)

The second site is Yahooligans. Again, this is useful for all sorts of topics, but the Around the World section is superb. My class loved using the World Fact Book and Ask Earl. We used this site in lessons and for homework activities.

The Third site is National Geographic Kids. My class found this one harder to find specific information from, but they enjoyed the games and a general explore.

Oh, and of course, Google Earth, on which we jetted all over the world, just because we could!


Sunday, October 23, 2005

Author Yellow Pages and Kidsreads

In one of my September posts, I gave links to some children's author websites. I have since found two more sites to help me add to that list.

The first is Author Yellow Pages which, as the names suggests, allows you to serach for author websites! It has lots of links and is not just for children's authors (but you can get to those using the 'genre' drop down menu). However, it only contains the details of authors who have submitted their sites to them, so some popular ones may not be on there.

The other site is an American one called KidsReads. It has author pages, fun online activities, book reviews and a teen book section. Well worth a visit!


Saturday, October 22, 2005

Songs For Teaching

We all like playing music in the classroom. The Songs For Teaching website has collated a load of ideas for us! It lists songs to use for each subject and has the lyrics to them. It even has some free sound-clips which you can download.

Teaching Tips section also has lots of useful advice on how to use music effectively in the classroom and how to teach song words.

Teacher Sol's blog also has a post about how she is using the song of American Idol winner, Fantasia, with her class.


Thursday, October 20, 2005

Guy Fawkes Web Resources

With Bonfire Night fast approaching, here is a list of websites you may want to use with your class, taken from The Guardian's Resource Page:

A BBC News Report of the event

Guy Fawkes and Bonfire Night

Gunpowder Plot Society - more for teachers and background info

Gunpowder, Treason and Plot

Fletching Bonfire Society

The National Archives - Learning Curve

Rosie Briar - poetry and background

Woodland's Junior School


My New Toy!

After reading a post about PDA's on the Primary Teacher UK Blog, I have gone out and bought one!

It's gorgeous, but of course, I haven't got a clue how to use it yet! I have been busy taking the tutorials for it and learning to write in the Grafitti 2 software. I even sat watching it charge up for 3 hours! How sad is that????

If anyone has any tips, advice or suggestions for software good for school, I would love to hear them.


Tuesday, October 18, 2005

Writing A Recount PowerPoint

I am sure we all ask our children to write recounts quite regularly. I discuss the features of recounts with my Y3 class and use them as success criteria. Features such as:

Writing in the first person
Mainly writing in the past tense
The need for an introduction
Chronologically ordering events
Using connectives and other time related vocabulary

As we write recounts fairly often, I have put all this information into a PowerPoint file so I can use it over and over again. The last page can also be printed out and used as a rubric with the children. My class love this activity.

You can download my PowerPoint here. Feedback welcome as always!


Sunday, October 16, 2005

Happy Birthday Kermit!!!

na na na na

do doooo da do do

Happy Birthday to Kermit, who is now an amzing 50 years old!

Yahoo News tell of his birthday celebrations in the town of Kermit, Texas. He is also going on tour. Not bad at his age - Mick Jagger had better watch out!

This has brought back fond memories to me. Kermit was one of my first crushes, along with Dougal from
The Magic Roundabout and Rupert Bear. My taste in men hasn't improved much since then either!


Saturday, October 15, 2005

Ruth Miskin's Nonsense Word Reading Test

Ruth Miskin is a well-known name to anyone interested in synthetic phonics. She has developed her own literacy programme, called Read Write Inc.. I haven't used it myself, but I have heard very good things about it and would be interested to know your views if you have used it.

One of Ruth's resources is the Nonsense Word Reading Test (download at the botton of the page on Synthetic Phonics,com) which I find invaluable. As the name suggests, the test contains a list of nonsense words which require children to use their phonic knowledge to decode. I feel it helps provide a really good assessment of their phonic ability, not allowing for sight-words at all.

Try it out with your class.


Promote Your Site Or Blog On is a useful directory for teachers to submit their sites and blogs to and it has some great sites on there for you to visit.


Friday, October 14, 2005

What Is Your Most Embarrassing Moment In The Classroom?

On a school trip recently, I loaded my class onto the coach and was walking along the aisle to check everyone had buckled up their seat-belts. I was wearing a blouse with those press-stud popper type buttons. As I passed two of the seats, the seat-belt clamp on the top of the chair got caught between two of the buttons. I, unfortunately, didn’t notice and carried on walking!

As I moved, my blouse remained entangled on the chair, which caused all the buttons to pop open!!! Two of my poor little Year 3’s were sadly subjected to a full on flash! I have never been so mortified in my life.

I quickly grabbed both sides of my open blouse and wrapped it round me. Thank goodness I was wearing my sensible teacher underwear! With scarlet cheeks I apologised to the poor children in question, whose faces were a picture! At least it was only two of them near the back of the coach.

When I got back to school, I thought it best to inform the head in case he had irate parents calling him. He laughed his head off and congratulated me on introducing sex education in a creative way! Hmph! For the next few days, everyone I passed in the school gave a little rendition of that old song “Flash……a-haaaaaa”! I still have nightmares about it.

So, what is your most embarrassing moment?


Primary Ideas - For Those Hard To Find Resources

Craig, a regular contributer on the TES Message Boards, has set up his own website. Primary Ideas has some great resources which you can download for free!

He has some great
assessment sheets on there and updates the site regularly. There are also lots of book related activities in the guided reading section and several assembly ideas.


Wednesday, October 12, 2005

Sleeping Disorders In Children

Thanks to Myepinoy of the Pinoy Teachers Network for suggesting we have a look at the Star Sleeper Website.

This is an American site, helped along by Garfield the cat, with lots of information for teachers and parents about helping children to get a good nights sleep. It also contains fun activities for the children to do.

The site has some nice lesson ideas and resources if you are looking at this in PSHCE or science.


Tuesday, October 11, 2005

Diwali Art Activities

We had art today and we looked at Rangoli patterns in preparation for Diwali. They are looking stunning and I will post pictures when they are finished.

I have made a very simple Rangoli PowerPoint which you can download.

Snaith Primary School Website has some excellent ideas, including an animation of how Rangoli design are made and Rangoli you can colour online.

There are also some good art links on Jackie Miers' superb India Website.

Happy Diwali!


Monday, October 10, 2005

Junior Education Topics Magazine Free Downloads

If your school is anything like mine, Junior Education Magazine arrives each month, gets put on the staffroom table and disappears within the hour never to be seen again! Not that I am saying that teachers hoard things but...

Anyway, all is not lost! You can now download all the photocopiable worksheets they issue each month from the magazine homepage. This month, it is Rivers, but by clicking the the links at the side of the page, you can actually download the resources for the last year.

Well worth adding to your favourites and returning to each month.


Sunday, October 09, 2005

Dorling Kindersley (DK) For Schools

I have just stumbled across the Dorling Kindersley Schools site. Although I am not always impressed by their books, they have worked really hard to produce some good, free downloadable resources for teachers.

They have some nice ideas for assemblies with a global theme in their resource packs and some cross-curricular science and humanities resources on the Literacy Hour Activity pages.

Well worth a look if you are trying a more cross-curricular approach.


Non-Fiction Books Discussion PowerPoint

I was just planning this weeks guided reading and we are using non-fiction books. I made this simple PowerPoint file for some groups to use as a post-reading activity.

Hope you find it useful. Please let me know if you have trouble downloading it. The server I use, Ripway, has had technical trouble this weekend. I can email it if you are having diffciulties.


Saturday, October 08, 2005

Spelling Lists

I have recently been surfing around a lot of teacher message boards and blogs and I have noticed that there are often lots of requests from teachers needing advice on what spellings to give their children.

Obviously, you need to give the children the spellings they need rather than just follow any old schemes order because they claim to be Year 3 spellings! I thought I would share with you what I use and how I work out what to teach my Year 3 class.

I base my spelling programme on the
Jolly Grammar books. I know these are designed for years 1 and 2. However, we all have children who find spelling difficult or older ESL children to work with and the ideas in Jolly Grammar can be very simply adapted for use with older children.

I always start the year with an assessment of the sounds and alternative spelling patterns the children know. It sounds tricky, but doesnt take long and can be done as a whole class. I have a list of the sounds they should know, three sheets in total depending on age and ability. The most basic is the
42 sounds assessment sheet, the next is an assessement sheet of sounds in Jolly Grammar 1 and the third is from Jolly Grammar 2. I have all the children's names down one side, and the sounds along the top. It quickly becomes visible which sounds the children aren't sure of, and that is where I start.

Why start at the beginning if the children know them??

With my Year 3's this year, almost all of them could use the sounds on the JG1 sheet, so I am working off the JG2 sheet, about half way along.

You don't actually need to have the Jolly Grammar books. I think Jolly Grammar provides a good order to follow for spelling. You can choose your own words for your spelling lists based on the sound you are teaching or dip into any scheme you have in school already and link the words from that. This just provides you with an order to follow, meeting the needs of your class due to that initial assessment.

We have Jolly Grammar and Nelson Spelling at school. I use Jolly Gramar spelling lists for some, and use the words for the same sound from Nelson for other children. As I said, it is easily adaptable.

I think the most important thing is to actually TEACH the children about the sound you are studying. I know when I first started teaching ten years ago, and knew no better, I used to send spelling lists home for the children to learn, but I never actually TAUGHT them the sounds. Thank goodness I have improved since then! Still, I am sure I am not alone in this. Jolly Grammar gives very simple but excellent lesson plans explaining the rules for each sound (such as when to use /igh/ intead of i magic e or y). For anyone new to teaching or those who are a bit confused about teaching spelling, I would highly recommend it.

Please download my assessment sheets by clicking the links above, if only to get an idea of an order to follow if you are unsure. Adapt them as you like. leave a comment or e-mail me if you would like further information.

Hope this is helpful.


Thursday, October 06, 2005

Teachers' TV

I first visited Teachers' TV after doing a search for Richard Dunne, an inspirational maths teacher and advisor whom I was lucky enough to receive training from. They have 2 maths videos which you can download showing children using some of his methods.

Apparently, in the UK, Teachers' TV is freeview on lots of cable services. As I no longer work in the UK I like the fact that I can download the shows from their site and watch them wherever I am. Most of the content is related to the British National Curriculum, but there are also some good programmes about classroom management and workload.

It is a bit hard to navigate around the site at times, but some of the programmes are excellent and so well worth the effort.


Wednesday, October 05, 2005

Ofsted's Report on the Teaching of English

What are your views on the recently released Ofsted report about the teaching of English over the last 5 years?

It seems to state that one in five children start secondary school having not achieved Level 4 in English. It suggests that these children need targeting. Fair enough. Does that mean the government are going to provide adequate funding to provide for these children? Will it make it easier for teachers to move children up the SEN ladder? Or does it simply mean we are going to be blamed and degraded yet again?

I suppose they could always come up with another new initiative which they haven't fully thought through to increase our workload and send us into a frenzy.

It at least raises the question about the appropriateness and (in)adequacy of the National Literacy Strategy.

What I dislike is the way they seem to blame teachers for "..interpreting the framework infexibly and not addressing the needs of the children." Excuse me? What have we been shouting about for years now? It is always so easy to blame the teachers and it really annoys me!

I am fortunate. Teaching in an international school means we have lots of flexibility with the NLS and the like.

What are your views?


Parent-Teacher Interviews

I have just had parents' night and I'm exhausted with a croaky voice! I have to do it all over again tomorrow for the other half of the class - maybe in a whisper!

What I have found difficult this year is having to keep talking when there isn't that much to say! This being term 1, the focus of the meeting is really just about how they have settled in, discussing any concerns and setting a small target for parents to help with at home.

However, and I know I am going to make you jealous here, I have a really lovely class this year and for some of them I just want them to keep doing what they are doing. This does not lend itself to filling 15 minutes!

What do the rest of you do in this situation? Or parents, what else would you like to hear?


Primary Teacher UK's Self Esteem Games

Andrew has put a couple of great ideas on his blog for activities to improve self-esteem. Do have a look at them.


Tuesday, October 04, 2005

Our 'Passport to the World' topic. Really simple. Children's holiday diaries and Yahooligans 'around the world' research. Posted by Picasa

Studying Jeremy Strong's characters. Posted by Picasa

What i like about you. every child had to write a positive comment about every other child in the class. Try doing your own too, good for the self-esteem! Posted by Picasa

Monday, October 03, 2005

Koh Samui Music Festival Pictures Posted by Picasa

Was It Worth It?

Thanks for the good wishes after my last post about my weekend away. I didn't think I would get to update my blog tonight as I have had to catch up on all the planning I didn't get done at the weekend.

Sitting here tonight, I asked myself, well, was it really worth it? My answer has to be - YES!!! It was amazing! Even though I have had to spend an hour or so working tonight, I feel on top of the world and the work I had to do was no trouble at all. I am sure it would have been harder last week! I am refreshed (and rather sun-burnt!) and getting away from it all has done me the world of good. I advise all you teachers out there to have a weekend away too! I have made a resoultion to get away at least once a month - I will keep you posted on that one! Still, being monthly, at least it should last longer than my New Year dieting resolutions which last, on average, about 6 hours!

The Festival was fantastic, although a bit of a flop numbers wise which is really sad. It was well-organised and the bands were brilliant. It is a shame it was so poorly attended. Jools Holland played to a crowd of around 500! I doubt he has played to so few since he started out! However, he still gave an amazing performance. The Wailers and UB40 drew a larger crowd on Saturday night, a couple of thousand I would guess, though I could have been seeing double with the amount of alcohol I had consumed! UB sounded just like they always have (I even had to translate their Brummie accents for a few people!) and they really got the crowd going. However, the highlight for me was seeing The Wailers. They really were outstanding! It was a great international event! Reggae and Blues music, a big Thai turnout and a crowd from just about every corner of the earth.

The only thing to spoil it was hearing the news about the bombs going off again in Bali. To hear that in the middle of an event which brought people from every walk of life together was heart-breaking. My thoughts and sincerest sympathy go out to all those affected by this tragic event.


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