First term catch-up #3: Writing, weather and fine motor development

As the children become more confident in their reading skills, they are being challenged to apply their knowledge of letters and words to their writing. Whilst they will continue to need significant support when writing, students are consolidating their understanding of basic print concepts, such as the directionality of text (i.e. left to right, top to bottom). We have also been focusing on starting a sentence with a capital letter, leaving finger spaces between words, and ending each sentence with a full stop.

Journal 1

Here are some journal entries from Term 1:

Journal 6 Journal 5 Journal 4 Journal 7 Journal 3 Journal 2

We practised using the mini whiteboards for Magic 100 Word writing practice, then finished by turning our first initials into pictures (just for fun!):

Letter picture 5 Letter picture 3 Letter picture 6 Letter picture 1 Letter picture 4 Letter picture 2

Throughout Term 1, we studied the science unit Weather in my World. Students discussed how the weather changes from one season to the next, identifying clothing and activities that are suitable for each season. We also did a class brainstorm of weather words related to the seasons, and we used straws and tissue paper to make kites.

Seasons 1

You may need to click on the following images to see them in more detail:

Seasons 6 Seasons 7 Seasons 8 Seasons 9 Seasons 2 Seasons 3 Seasons 4 Seasons 5 Kites 2 Kites 1 Kites 3 Kites 4

You will notice that fine motor development makes a regular appearance on the blog. Activities that involve pinching, squeezing and picking up items help to promote finger strength and consequently, stamina when writing. The children used Hama beads (‘les perles’) to create colourful mobile pieces. There were no instructions given as to design, so finished products ranged from randomly placed beads to symmetrical patterns.

Beads 1 Beads 2 Beads 4 Beads 5 Beads 3

If you don’t already know, the latest craze is rainbow loom bands. I often consider what the children are interested in, in order to engage them in their learning. It was a no-brainer to teach the children how to make bracelets using the bands, so they could practice the pinching action whilst following a set of simple instructions.

Loom bands 1 Loom bands 3 Loom bands 2

First term catch-up #2: Letters, words and stories

This retrospective focuses on some elements of our literacy program: phonics, high-frequency words and reading.

We have continued to explore letters and their sounds in a variety of ways. The children enjoy watching Sesame Street video clips about our focus letters and brainstorming to see how many words we can list. We have identified objects that begin with the focus letter and practiced forming  letters correctly when writing. We often do a craft activity to produce a visual representation of something that begins with our focus letter. ‘Craftivities’ are also great for developing art skills such as using scissors and determining how much glue is needed.

Phonics Dd Phonics Ff Phonics Ii Phonics Mm Phonics Nn Phonics Oo Phonics Pp 2 Phonics Pp 1


Students have been working hard to recall high-frequency words, although this can be tricky as many of these words do not follow phonetic rules (i.e. you cannot ‘sound them out’). Learning the high-frequency words helps students to read more fluently and with greater confidence.

Golden words 4 Golden words 3 Golden words 2 Golden words 1


The children are developing a love of books and reading as their skills improve. Each morning, they share their ‘readers’ from the previous night with a small group. Occasionally, they are challenged to read to the whole class. I am impressed by the enthusiasm the children demonstrate by taking on this challenge.

Reading 2 Reading 4 Reading 1 Reading 3 Reading 7 Reading 6 Reading 5


Responding to texts is also a very important part of literacy learning. Listening to stories and discussing the characters, settings and events help the children to develop their comprehension skills. While reading Dan and the Parrot and What the Ladybird Heard, students were challenged to predict what would happen next at various points of the story, and they responded to the text by drawing and discussing their favourite events.

Dan and the Parrot 1a Dan and the Parrot 4 Dan and the Parrot 2 Dan and the Parrot 3 Dan and the Parrot 5 Ladybird 1 Ladybird 4 Ladybird 3 Ladybird 2

First term catch-up #1: Numbers and sequences

During the holidays, I was looking through photos from Term 1 and there are soooo many that I decided to create a retrospective series of blog posts. This first post relates to mathematics, although you will see there are some links with literacy learning.

We continued counting collections of objects and began to compare two collections by using the terms ‘more than’ and ‘less than’. To support this learning, we talked about Ally Alligator who eats the big numbers, and the children learnt how to record comparisons using numbers and symbols. Students completed an assessment sheet, rolling two dice for each question and writing the respective number sentence.

Ally Alligator 3

We learnt how to add two small numbers by counting on (putting the bigger number in our heads and counting on the smaller number). The children played addition memory match, using number sentence and domino cards.

Addition memory 1 Addition memory 2 Addition memory 3

Buddy numbers/Complements to 10 came next in our number learning. One of the tasks was ten-frame lucky dip. Ten counters were taken from a bag (no peeking!) and recorded onto a ten-frame, one colour then the other (there were only two colours of counters in the bag). Number sentences were written to match the ten-frames.

Buddy numbers 2

We discussed the order of colours in a rainbow before tackling the Ten Facts Rainbow Turtle sheet. The turtle’s rainbow was coloured, then the flowers were coloured accordingly.

Buddy numbers 3

This activity was a variation of memory match, called Flip Ten. The children really enjoyed the added challenge of searching for two number cards that add to ten. We could have used standard playing cards, but I love the bright colours of Uno cards and the kids do too!

Buddy numbers 1

We also made paper chains, which was great for developing hand strength by using a stapler. Each student made a chain to represent a ‘buddy number’ fact. As a class, we practised saying the matching number sentences, which were recorded and attached to their chains.

Buddy numbers 4


We began to learn about the collection and presentation of data, and we made a class graph to represent the letters in our names. We discovered that A and E are the most commonly used letters, whilst other letters were not present in our names at all.



Sequencing is an important aspect of our learning this year. Retelling a story in the correct order makes for great sequencing practice. One of our favourite stories, The Very Hungry Caterpillar, has come in very handy!

Hungry Caterpillar 1 Hungry Caterpillar 2 Hungry Caterpillar 3 Hungry Caterpillar 4

Remembering the days of the week – in the correct order – is challenging for many students, so we have practised describing the various activities we do on particular days.

Days of the week 4 Days of the week 3 Days of the week 2 Days of the week 1

We also practised sequencing by using the ordinal descriptions first through to fifth. The Pamela Allen story Who Sank the Boat? is a great accompaniment to this learning.

Who Sank the Boat 2 Who Sank the Boat 3 Who Sank the Boat 1

Safety, sounds and shapes

During the past few weeks we have been learning about safety, both at home and at school. We have talked about what it means to be safe and what we can do if we feel unsafe. The children identified some excellent examples of when they feel safe at home and school:

Safety 1 Safety 2 Safety 3 Safety 4


We are exploring letters, the sounds they make and how to write them correctly. As a class group, we brainstorm words that begin with the focus letter, then illustrate pages for a class book. Students have made letters using blocks, pinboards and squeeze bottles of paint. They also enjoy watching short videos that focus on specific letters and their sounds. As you can see, we have some very talented (and witty) artists in the class!

Phonics Aa airplane chasing alligator Phonics Aa airplane Phonics Aa Anne and apple Phonics Aa apple eating alligator Phonics Aa apple Phonics Aa arc en ciel Phonics Ss Jolly Phonics Phonics Ss snake Phonics Ss squeeze painting Phonics Ss Stella Phonics Tt teeth Phonics Tt tent Phonics Tt train Phonics Tt turtle


In Maths, we have been identifying and describing common shapes such as circles, triangles, squares and rectangles. For a bit of fun, we incorporated some of these shapes into creative drawings:

Shapes 1 Shapes 2 Shapes 3 Shapes 4 Shapes 5 Shapes 6 Shapes 7 Shapes 8


It was a surprise for the students when we had not one, but TWO visits from the Metropolitan Fire Brigade. The first visit was an opportunity to discuss fire prevention and what to do in the case of a fire. We learnt that, if we are in a building where there is a fire, we should Crawl down low and GO, GO, GO! If our clothes catch fire, we should Stop, drop, cover (the face) and roll. During the second visit, the firemen showed us their truck and all of the equipment it contains. We even got to have a look inside the truck!

Fire what is wrongFire craw low go Fire stop drop cover roll Fire truck

As part of our social and emotional learning, we have been introduced to the Kimochis and discussed their various character traits. Students were then asked to draw their favourite Kimochi, or the one they identified with the most. It seems Cloud is the most popular, possibly because his head spins!

Kimochi Bella Rose 1 Kimochi Bella Rose landscape Kimochi Bug 1 Kimochi Cat 1 Kimochi Cat 2 Kimochi Cloud 1 Kimochi Cloud 2 Kimochi Cloud 3 Kimochi Cloud 4 Kimochi Clover 1 Kimochi Clover 2 Kimochi Hugtopuss 1 Kimochi Lovey Dove 1 Kimochi Lovey Dove landscape


*For the record, I’m an Eagles fan!


And so it begins…

We have had a fun and busy start to the school year, participating in many different activities and getting to know each other.

To celebrate Chinese New Year, we made dragons and lanterns:

dragons 2 dragons 1 lanterns 4 lanterns 3 lanterns 2lanterns 1


We practised counting forwards and backwards between zero and ten as we read Dr Seuss’ Ten Apples Up On Top. Then we did our best to cut and paste numbered apples in order:

Ten Apples Up On TopTAUOT 1TAUOT 3

We read a very funny big book called One Cold Wet Night. It is about a farmer who gets up during the night, and returns to find a menagerie in his bed. Each child drew a picture and dictated a sentence about his or her favourite part of the story:


Activity tables have been very popular, with students moving between a variety of activities that allow them to explore colour, shape and structure. These activities also assist in the development of fine motor skills and cooperative learning:

foam shapes geoboards how to draw lego magnetic buttons pattern blocks pinboards snakes ladders


A late last post for 2013

December was a busy month for our class, but we had a lot of fun along the way, playing educational games and celebrating the year’s learning.

The children explored shape using tangrams. First, they used their knowledge of shape transformations (flip, slide and turn) to solve a traditional 7-piece tangram square. Then they experimented with the shapes to create animals or people.

rabbit giant flying turtlegiant bunny

Our school has subscribed to Mathletics for many years and, in 2014, we will be using Spellodrome for the first time across the whole school. We were fortunate to be offered free access in the final weeks of the school year, much to the delight of the students.

spellodrome 1 spellodrome 2

We enjoyed some old favourites, including CVC games and Wizards & Lizards.

cvc bingo cvc initial sound wizards lizards 1 wizards lizards 2Students revised the reading strategies they had learnt throughout the year by discussing each strategy and illustrating their own reference books. In the coming year, the children will continue using the reading strategies, and they will explore comprehension strategies to support their reading.

reading cover reading fish reading eagle reading monkey reading snake reading frog reading lion reading dolphin reading hippo


We completed our class display for the science unit What’s it made of? by adding our drawings to their respective categories. The students had listed several objects they were not sure how to categorise, so we placed them around the question mark and together, we found out what these objects were made of.

*Click on photo to enlarge


Symbolism, symmetry, science and subtraction

We began this week with a whole school Remembrance Day assembly to commemorate the sacrifices made during times of war. Students learnt about the importance of this day and asked questions about the causes and consequences of war. We talked about why poppies and rosemary are symbols of remembrance, and we made our own poppies from felt, cardboard, scoubies and pompoms.

We continued to explore symmetry by looking at images of butterflies. The children carefully coloured a butterfly outline using ‘magic’ pencils. They then painted with the magic potion (that looked strangely like water!) to bring their butterflies to life.

For Science this term, we are learning about what things are made of. We did a class brainstorm of objects that are made from plastic, metal, glass, wood and fabric. The children came up with a rather extensive list!

Now that we have mastered simple addition, we have moved onto learning about subtraction. Each child designed a pair of colourful socks, which were hung on the ‘washing’ line across the classroom. We used different counting strategies to work out how many socks there were. We then played a game that involved the wind blowing some of the socks off the line. The question was asked: How many socks are missing? and we explored different strategies to solve each problem that was presented.

A visit with Harold

On Friday, our class visited the Life Education van. We were super excited about meeting Harold and learning how to keep our bodies healthy. Prior to our visit, we talked about the importance of eating lots of fruit and vegetables, and we made fruity face pictures:

In the van, we met Harold the cheeky giraffe and interacted with a video about a visit to the park for a picnic.

We were challenged to make decisions about healthy foods by placing food items onto a 3D wall chart:

We learnt about our organs, how they function and how we can look after them by making healthy choices:

Finally, we exercised by dancing along to Harold’s favourite song:


Silly Science

In Maths last week, we continued our revision of shapes, patterns and addition. Our literacy groups included tasks such as handwriting and exploring word families. We revisited the reading and writing strategy Stretchy Snake by making CVC (consonant-vowel-consonant) words on the pocket chart and writing them in a list.

In addition to Footsteps, we participated in a Silly Science incursion. The children enjoyed making slime, studying optical illusions, experimenting with magnets and poking skewers through bags of water without them leaking. The session was completed with rocket launching.

We drew pictures and wrote about our favourite experiments:

On Wednesday we did silly science. My favourite experiment was the part with the bags.

On Wednesday we did silly science. My favourite experiment was slime.

On Wednesday we did silly science. My favourite experiment was when we did the bags with some water and sticks. We had lots of fun.

On Wednesday we did silly science. My favourite experiment was the rockets.

The beginning of the end of the year

This week we started our final assessments for the year. To counteract the serious nature of testing, we have had some fun in literacy and maths groups.

We trialled a free online phonics game called Teach Your Monster to Read. The consensus among the students is that it’s fun and helpful for practising letters, sounds and words. Super! Students will take home their sign-in cards next week so they can play at home too. They can also continue to use Mathletics for extra practice with number, shape, pattern and measurement tasks.

 We started to explore symmetry, discussing the use of mirrors and identifying symmetrical objects. The children produced their own symmetrical works using folding, cutting and pasting skills.

Shapes, patterns and design are popular amongst the children, so we revised these concepts by making Hama bead plates. This is also a fantastic activity for developing fine motor skills.

We read a funny story called A Most Unusual Dog, written by Tohby Riddle, and created a sequel about a most unusual cat. Here are some of the pages from our latest class book.

Although the children enjoyed their classroom activities, the highlights of this week were the Footsteps dance lesson  on Tuesday and the return of Friday icy poles.