Pinch Pots

Pinch Pots

This week my students have enjoyed sculpting and painting mini pinch pots for their mums in anticipation of Mothers’ Day.

We used Das air dry clay in both white and terracotta and I allowed for roughly 200 grams of clay per student. The instructions for the pinch pots were very straightforward, we simply rolled the clay into a ball then stuck in our thumb to create a hole. Then, by holding the clay in one hand and turning it constantly, we were able to use our other hand to thin and even out the edges of the pot. Some students were especially creative and turned theirs into heart shapes or their mother’s initial. Others used tools such as wooden skewers and texta lids to make patterns and marks in their designs.

I was able to discuss connections with this project and our new science unit ‘Materials and Their Properties’ by teaching new vocabulary such as ‘malleable’ and ‘pliable’. It’s always nice when topics are interrelated!

After two days of drying (the weather has been cold lately) we were ready to paint. We opted for neon colours as well as some beautiful metallic copper, gold and silver paints.

There were some beautiful results!

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Q and U

Q and U

In spelling this week my Grade Fours celebrated the wedding of Q and U. This memorable occasion was, of course, to remind students that these two letters are always together in words. Students worked together in small groups to design and construct a QU wedding cake out of plasticine.

Some groups even challenged themselves to decorate their cake with QU words – can you spy a question mark, an equals sign, an antique chest of drawers, a queen’s crown and a quaint man’s black hat?!

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Here’s hoping this creative, hands on task will strengthen their spelling skills and see them never separate Q and U again…’til death do they part!

Mini Whiteboards

Mini Whiteboards

Something new to my classroom this year was the purchase of a class set of mini whiteboards. My students were extremely chuffed to receive their very own whiteboard marker and couldn’t wait to get started incorporating these ‘new toys’ into our lessons and activities.

It’s been so liberating for them to be able to participate instantly in class discussions by writing or drawing their ideas, instead of wearing out their raised arm waiting for their chance to speak. They simply hold up their board and I am able to acknowledge their contribution and classmates can simply see each other’s thoughts.

Instructional teaching sessions have become much more engaging and dynamic with these boards in my students’ laps. So far we have used them for brainstorming, history timelines, scoreboards, maths quizzes, class voting, note taking and summarising.

To top it all off, it’s been an excellent way to reduce our use of paper in the classroom!

I first heard of using these mini whiteboards through UK educator, Dylan Wiliam, and am on the look out for more innovative uses of these amazing little tools, so please share!

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Learning through Play

I am lucky enough to have the very talented Mrs B working in the room next door to me. Each week she is determined to create a new and exciting play space for her Kinders and ‘playgroup’. Often the play spaces are left for a few weeks with subtle changes, maybe the animals change or something little is left for the children to discover. This week she focused on frogs but some horses crept in too! For the babies we found some great bead mazes from our local tip shop and pom-poms with cardboard rolls! It is true as early childhood teachers our occupation is play.

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Easter with Toddlers

This Easter is a little different from others… Because now I have a toddler! Evie is almost 2 and right into anything messy. My aim today was to create a few Easter drawings for her great grandparents. We ventured into painting with brushes and using the most fabulous drawing product I’ve come across, Crayola Twistable Slick Sticks. Painting was great fun but wow it covered me, her and the deck! The crayons were a delight and although a little messy they were so smooth to draw with. The slightest touch and they produced beautiful marks. Crayola suggest using them on all sorts of surfaces. I experimented with them on tin foil and they shimmer; perfect for Rainbow Fish art? Might try that at school.

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Sustainable Classroom Ideas

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If your students are anything like ours, they love to use paper hand towels by the truckload. For a more sustainable solution, invest in some cheap face washers (or better still just cut up some old towels). These can be used over and over and require a wash or soak in the sink every few weeks depending upon grottiness levels. They’re also ideal for the art studio where students can use them for wiping brushes between colour changes.

Tadpoles

Tadpoles

The highlight of our life cycles science unit was our mini tadpole pond. Fresh lettuce was brought in each day to keep them well fed (or begged from the canteen when we forgot). We kept them for close observation until they looked ready to escape. At this point we returned them to the very pond from which they were taken.

May the Force be With You

IMG_1566May the Force be With You

To celebrate the end of our science unit on forces we performed our own version of the Cantina scene from Star Wars. This ‘deleted scene’ focussed on Luke Skywalker’s quest for the meaning of the force with various aliens providing ‘educational’ suggestions. Of course it was an excellent opportunity for artistic set design and prop making. Check out this paper Chewbacca mask and fully robotic R2D2 (powered by a remote control car). All credit to Mr Jensen, another incredible prac student, and his team of diehard student helpers for the amazing R2!