Teach Skills for Writing Systematically

Are you stuck in a rut with writing? New to teaching and not sure how best to teach writing? Pulling your hair out after giving students a blank piece of paper?

My Week of Work writing mini books provide you a focus for each day of the week that will build a structure to your writing program. 

This is a great routine for teaching skills for writing in a sequenced, carefully scaffolded activity that takes just a few minutes each day. It will not encompass your whole writing program, but it will give your students a great start to both writing and reading! In addition to this I also recommend a more traditional 'writing hour' or session weekly where you model and guide complete independent and creative writing. 

I highly recommend integrating the mini workbooks with a DAILY whole group reading/writing lesson that is briefly explained here

In this post I will give you a free resource to provide a glimpse into this structure. It will help you sequence a whole week of activities for your early writing lessons.

 Print the pages and make each of your students their own mini writing book for the week.

 This book has a focus on the sentence pattern "I go to (school)"..

The books are simple to prepare - just a few staples and a slice down the middle. 

 On day 1,

students will read a sentence and then cut/paste words to match. Here you can teach

- where to begin reading (left side of page)
- spaces between words
- one group of letters = one word out of our mouth
- capital letter to begin
- full stop/period to finish
- words match picture
- pointing to text to read with 1:1 correspondence

On day 2,

students will again cut and paste (following a guide), but also trace the words to copy the sentence. Follow up yesterday's learning and also 

- where to start each letter
 - putting your finger in between each word to create a space
- how to be a 'writer' (put words in an order so that they tell a message that can understood)

On day 3, 
students will cut and paste the sentence, without any model or guide and also write the sentence on their own within writing lines. You will be reviewing all skills taught so far and then encouraging 

- independent writing by copying a model
- revising letter formation 
- using lines to contain letters/proportion

 On day 4, 

students will finish the beginning of a sentence "I go to ..." and attempt independent writing

Model all previous learning with the large teacher cards and also changing the end of the sentence to create a new message. Make these word cards in front of the students using blank flashcards and a sharpie so that they can see that a string of letters go onto one card to make one word. Model flipping between the sentence they have become used to and the new one. I promise they will not mind reading this same sentence 100 times in the week - if you pretend it is a HUGE deal, they will think they are wonderful and on their way to being a fantastic reader/writer!  

On day 5
students will attempt independent writing and write their own sentence.

This day will allow for your students who are ready to write independently to have a go at their own writing. Your emergent writers may write random letters and scribbles - you can scribe and tell them they are amazing. 

You can break up these activities and tailor them to suit your own students if you prefer.

Head over to my TpT store if you would like to try this routine or resource!

- Mel x

Free Apple Banner Pennants

I wanted to remind you today about a cute and fun way to explore patterns in the classroom. The best part? You can create a decorative classroom display at the same time! 

The printable pages of this packet will help you make a super cute "pattern" apple themed classroom banner!

I made it to help teach about repeating patterns with little learners! They will love moving the pennants around to make a new pattern each day. 

Simply print, cut and clip to a line or string!

The designs also come in a 'backline' version - ask your students to shade or paint these before creating your classroom banner!

Mix and match them with other pennants from other packets in my collection for a truly unique and ever-changing classroom display!

Hop over to my TpT store to download it for free!

I also have a number banner in an apple theme as an alternative, find it in my TpT store too!

Have a lovely day friends and thanks so much for stopping by!

A Pretty New Wallpaper for Your Screens

Friends, I have a pretty wallpaper for your screens this week! If you are as preoccupied with pencils and books {of all sorts} as I am, you will love this little reminder on your desk and phone for the week.

Download the images from Google Drive which can be used for your classroom and personal use only.

Find the

computer image HERE

and the

phone image HERE

Have a wonderful day and thank you so much for stopping by!

- Mel x

Exploring Length in Measurement Activities

Math Pack #10 is ready and will help you introduce 'length' with a week full of engaging and fun activities. 

My Math Packs are perfect for the teacher who knows how to teach the basics, but needs fun motivating resources that are easy to prepare. 

This bundle of math activities will help students learning to:

  • make direct comparisons of length
  • identify objects that are the same and of similar length
  • read some basic length words
  • use informal units to measure
  • count and compare informal units for length

These activities can be used in a structured game rotation program, as math centers or in guided math. Once taught, they also make fantastic 'fast-finisher' activities for revision of key concepts

Some considerations before you expect students to play the small group or individual game activities in this pack.

  • Make sure students have had plenty of opportunity to play with math equipment and stack, build and join blocks and manipulatives
  • Be sure they have been encouraged to use their own informal math language to talk about and describe their creations - 'sharing time' after play is perfect for this! Ask 2 students to compare their creations and foster their descriptive language. Gradually model more sophisticated terms and they will naturally start to refine their mathematical language. 
  • Be careful when conducting activities for measurement that you consider sensitive students. When we put students in front of the class and compare the height and size of their bodies we may be causing unnecessary worry. Use toys or objects instead.
  • Young students will use terms like 'big', 'tall', 'long', 'high' to discuss size and measurement without a consistent and clear understanding of their meaning. You will need to clearly and explicitly introduce each term and be patient as students learn their correct meanings - combining this with lots of 'hands-on' experience is essential.
  • Make sure students are aware that there is a difference between length and distance. Length is the measure of an object from end to end in one direction. Distance is the interval between two objects or points (in the 5th game in the pack, between the head and tail of the worms). 
  • Gradually move from simple 'sorting long and short' activities to asking students to order multiple objects according to length.

The activities included in this bundle are:

Caterpillar Compare
Students compare 2 caterpillars and label with a card to make a statement of comparison.

My Peeps
Students use direct comparison to compare the length of two people cards - shorter, taller.

Piece of String
Students will place two pictures together to directly compare length.

Snake Measure
Students will use blocks to measure informally.

Worm Match
Students will count units to find the distance between the worm head and end.

Each of the 5 small-group activities has:

  • detailed instructions
  • playing cards/boards/templates
  • a worksheet (either a recording worksheet or a fun-follow-up)
  • a cover page to help you organize your resources for future reference

I've also included this pack in a growing bundle so you can secure the early-bird listing price for the next nine units (and an additional discount) without having to keep checking for my new releases. Each new using will be added to this bundle and you can download the updates when they are ready or wait for the complete bundle to be finalised. 

Throughout your teaching, observe and listen to students to assess their knowledge and understanding. Where you can, capitalise on incidental and routine classroom activities where measurement and length can be easily interwoven in your instructions and activities. 

Thanks so much for stopping by today friends - have a lovely weekend!

- Mel x


Classroom Posters to Motivate

Fun and vibrant classroom posters, carefully planned and presented can be great for classroom community and decoration!

They can help your students become aware of and help begin their journey to a growth mindset.

Today I added a few extra posters to this free offering in my TpT store:

The messages on these posters are uplifting and will encourage your students to think positively.

Switch your classroom posters out often for maximum impact! 

You might also like to check out the creative potential within my Color Create Motivate series. Your students can become 'designers' and make their own message stand out with the template backgrounds or they can carefully paint of color the backline posters I have made. Perfect for growth mindset! 

Thank you so much for stopping by today - I appreciate you so much!

- Mel x

Fun Fresh Pineapple Wallpaper for your Screens!

Friends, I have a fun new wallpaper for your screens this week! A cute little pineapple theme will help brighten your desk and phone!

Download the images from Google Drive which can be used for your classroom and personal use only.

Find the

computer image HERE

and the

phone image HERE

Have a wonderful day and thank you so much for stopping by!

- Mel x

5 Ways I Stay Productive at my Desk

Hello friends!

Today I wanted to quickly share with you 5 ways I make the most out of my time at the desk.

I've spent a fair chunk of my life at a desk of one sort or another and to be honest, some of it could have been more productive - getting into a flow gets easier over time. Here are 5 things that work for me.

1. Routine
I have 3 simple steps that I carry out every time I sit down at my desk and when I finish at my desk. It really doesn't matter what the steps are - the consistent routine will get you ready to focus. It could be for example - 
1. Make a cup of tea. 
2. Do a quick sketch or doodle. 
3. Put some music on. 

2. Goals
At the end of the final stint of work for the day I will quickly jot down 3-5 simple goals or reminders for the next day. They are on a post it note. Some days they don't get looked at, let alone done - but the key is I have a focus for my next session of work if I need them.

3. 5 Minutes
When I can't 'get started' I commit to digging deep and doing at least 5 minutes work. It is the same when I am exercising - the first steps are the most difficult. 99.9% of the time, I keep going, somehow  finding motivation and creativity. 
I spend 5 minutes clearing and reordering my desk at the end of the day.

4. Self Awareness
After much time at a desk I am now an expert and knowing when I have 'hit the wall' so to speak, or not using my time wisely. My mind is wandering I feel a heaviness that I know I cannot ignore.  I get up from the desk and do something totally different - housework, a stretch, get come fresh air, let my mind wander. 

5. Sit/Stand
I've used a standing/sitting arrangement for working at my computer for the last year and cannot recommend it highly enough.  

These practises are also considerations I take to my 'in-the-classroom teacher desk'. My creative work at home has helped me develop fantastic time management practices in my teacher work. Additional paperwork and documentation can be a significant contributor to stress and fatigue as a teacher - but if you develop some routine habits that you commit to - over time this aspect of your work can become much more manageable.

Thanks so much for stopping by today, if you would like some goodies for your desk space, be sure to sign up to my newsletter on my sidebar and check out these past posts!

Because if there was a #6 - it would be to make your desk a place you want to be. If you don't love it or use it - get rid of it! Think about ways you could make your space visually reflect the work you want to achieve! 

- Mel x

Free Flower Coloring Page

Hi friends! 

Some of you may have joined me a few days ago for a live drawing on Instagram. I promised to turn my sketch into a coloring page for you to download - here it is!

We painted it this morning - but it would look great in pencil or crayon too. 

Find it in Google Drive HERE

If you would like to find more creative pages for students to color OR design themselves, check out my 

Color Create Motivate pages 

at TpT  HERE

Have a lovely day friends!

- Mel x

One Page Number Crafts

A number version of my one page crafts has been made by request and added to my TpT store. These fun activities will help you engage your students in a creative activity that will look amazing on your bulletin boards!

A'one page craft' is easy to prep - you will simply copy one page per student to complete the crafts. 

Students color or paint their page before cutting and assembling their craft. Each craft will differ slightly in assembly procedures. 

As an optional extension to the craft or art lesson I have included a bonus collection of coordinating 'handwriting papers' so you can ask your students to complete some practice of numeral formation, number word writing and sentence writing. Along with the words to trace, students will trace a simple picture to match each craft.

The pack includes:

0. Zero is my Hero
1. One Has Fun Clown
2. Two Wears Shoes
3. Three at Sea
4. Open the Door Four
5. Five in a Hive 
7. Fix the Six
8. Eight is a Gate

9. Nine Likes to Dine 
10. Ten in a Den

Find this creative pack in my TpT store HERE and if you like the idea of building your collection of high quality and low prep craft activities - pop over here to see Pack #1

Have a wonderful day friends, thanks for stopping by!

Watermelon Wallpaper Screensaver

Time for a new screen wallpaper for the week! Join my in adding a fun fresh watermelon patterned image to the background on your phone and computer! 

They look great in the classroom or at home - pop them on iPads and your Smartboard too!

Find them at the end of this post in Google Drive

Have a lovely day friends!

Snag the computer paper HERE

and the phone paper HERE

Mel x

Make Handwriting Easy and Fun

Do you teach handwriting? Learning letter formation and style is a specific component of our literacy curriculum here in Australia and students will have several formal lessons per week or receive instruction integrated with other content areas.

Handwriting serves writing. It is the goal to have students writing fluently with minimal conscious effort. We teach the handwriting movements as well as the letter shapes. 

In my experience:

  • most students thoroughly enjoy their handwriting lessons. Learning to carefully create letters in a specific way gives them a similar level of enjoyment as to when they are doing artistic and creative activities
  • handwriting will contribute to some very special writing experiences and projects for children- the mixture of a personal handwriting style and a particular and personal message to convey
  • handwriting leads to better writing overall. By slowing down the writing process - students are able to form insights and carefully construct and reconstruct their written message
  • handwriting is a skill students can take anywhere and have available at any time - all they need is a pencil or pen

Your students will love beginning to learn about letter formation with these fun write'n'wipe cards!

Simply print and laminate the cards and provide them to your students with a dry erase marker. Letter formation takes lots of practice - particularly stroke order. By making them dry erase - students can write each level several times to develop fluency.  

The sky/grass/dirt and flower (flower/stem/roots) visual will assist your students learn about letter shape, size and proportions. 

These cards will integrate perfectly with my "Let's Learn the Alphabet Super Set"!

Find this easy to prep FREE handwriting activity in my TpT store HERE

Have a great day friends, and thanks so much for stopping by!

- Mel 

Celebrating Birthdays in the Classroom

It took me a few years of teaching to realise the significance of birthdays in the classroom. As adults we can quickly forget the importance of this special day to a child. 

Birthdays can be a simple or fancy affair in your classroom - whatever feels right for you - what matters the most is that they are acknowledged. Some important things to remember are: 

1. make it special 
Remember, 'special' to a child can be as simple as the class singing 'happy birthday'.
I ask the child to come to the front of the class if they are comfortable, I say something like this:
'I hear it is a special day for you today, can you tell us why..... how old are you now..........did anything special happen to you this morning before school.... do you have anything planned to celebrate, or will it be a surprise..... are you having a cake?...' and so on. I banter back and forth for a little while, and this little 'moment in the spotlight' for each child is very special to them. I keep my questioning fairly consistent for each birthday and the kids like the routine of it. We of course then sing happy birthday together as a class and finish with birthday claps. A secret stash of 'birthday only' stickers works a treat too. 

2. don't ever miss a child
Most children are forgiving when you forget things, but try if possible to always remember the birthdays in your class. Keep a class chart or list of birthdays and encourage the students to remind you when a birthday is coming - they love that sort of responsibility and it will encourage them to keep an eye on the calendar - which won't hurt their mathematical development. Write all their birthdays down in your planner or day book at the beginning of the year.

3. acknowledge summer and school-break birthdays 
Hop back to this post to see a little idea for making sure the kids who have birthdays while school is out have a special treat too. 

4. establish guidelines
The beginning of the school year is a great time to remind parents about birthday guidelines at your school. Pop these reminders in a note or at your class meeting. Some parents like to send cakes to school to help celebrate. You will need to keep them informed about rules at your school regarding the sharing of food, cakes, candles and food prep. A nicely worded reminder at the beginning of the school year about birthday party invite lists can greatly contribute to your class community. 

Something like this:
'I would love to help you through the year distributing any birthday invitations for your child. Please pass the envelopes to me and I will ensure they are packed into school bags at an ideal time'. If you are speaking with a group of parents it may also be appropriate to verbally remind them how devastating it can be for the one child who always seems to get left off the initiation list and that you want to minimise the impact of this for them by handing them out discretely and without the fanfare that children normally innocently add. 

5. decorate
You can make a birthday memorable in the classroom by having just one or a couple of special additions to the room for the day - that only come out on a birthday. A birthday chair. A birthday pencil. A birthday sign on the door. Pop a balloon on the child's chair. Similarly you could also have 'special things' that the child gets to do if it is their birthday - be your helper, collect the lunches, choose the reading book etc.

Here are a few birthday printables I have in my store:

The printable pages of this packet will help you make a bright and fun birthday themed classroom banner! 

There is a cupcake for each month, where student names can be recorded and also a variety of birthday themed decorative pennants.

Simply choose the pennant banners you would like to include on your unique display, print, cut and clip to a line or string! Use them all, or print multiples of just a few to create your design!

The various designs also come in a 'backline' version - ask your students to shade or paint these before creating your classroom banner!

I have included an MS Powerpoint version of the cupcakes so that you are able to type the names of your students if you prefer

These candle posters will make for a lovely birthday display in your classroom that is fast and easy to prep!

Print these cute birthday candle posters to make a display of your students' birthdays.

You will need to write their names and dates of the month on each candle.

OR you can open the Powerpoint file including in this packet, type your students names and then print them out. 

There are 2 candles to each page and a heading that says "Our Birthdays'. 

I have included 2 different options - one with and one without a bright colored background. 

This one was born in 2006 and had about 3 revisions! 

Print these posters to make a record of the birthdays in your classroom!

A birthday display makes a bright and happy way to celebrate the special days of the students in your class. Involve your students in making the display and they will treasure it and use its information to make meaningful connections to their classroom environment.

This pdf file contains :

- cupcake posters
- cupcake shaped posters (cut them out)
- all months on one page poster
- door poster
- display header ('Our Birthdays')
- printable birthday card 

I have also included a text-editable MS Powerpoint file, so you can edit the text, add text boxes to type in your students' names, change the font etc. A full version of backline pages are also included (have you students color them in!)

Because memories, the past and the journey are all very special to me - here is a peek at how it used to look {eek!}

Thank you so much for popping over to my blog - sign up to the newsletter so we can stay in contact! 

Have a terrific day friends. 

- Mel x