Monday, 27 January 2014

Every Day, Another Page

What You’ve Learnt So Far

When I was teaching English as a foreign language, I was lso1focusing on speaking and listening. With this in mind, I’ve made a lot of games which would encourage speaking and listening in the children.

I’ve made a few ‘Go Fish’ games, some Bingo games and a Speaking and Listening game, as well as a few questionnaires!

I’m hoping to get this book finished soon but I keep thinking of different pages to make! I’m trying to do some pronunciation guides but I think I might make some sound files, although Google Translate is fantastic for teaching pronunciation.

I don’t want you to think I’ve forgotten the other subjects and I will do some more posts soon! I have a list!

In the mean time, please send in requests for any lessons you’d like me to post about!

Friday, 24 January 2014

More Resources Coming Soon!

Progress is Being Made!

I am working hard to provide you with some amazing Chinese language resources.

I’m not a language teacher myself so I am finding it a bit difficult but I’m getting there!

so far

I’m building up a good bank of resources which will soon be shared in a blog post!

In the mean time, if you are looking for craft ideas for Chinese New Year, look no further than Activity Village!

Friday, 17 January 2014

Mandarin in the Early Years

A Short Pause in Posts

I am working on my new worksheet book (yes I said 1 front coverworksheets!) for teaching Mandarin so there will be a short pause in my blog posts while I get this book finished. I’ll post pictures of it so you can see my progress.

h&gb1This book will of course be free to download, like all my resources. I have taught English as a foreign language but I did it very practically so doing worksheets is proving a challenge!

I’m starting with the basics, ‘hello’ and ‘goodbye’ and colours, numbers and shapes. Basic sentences, such as ‘how are you’ and ‘I’m fine’ or ‘I’m not fine’.

If anyone has any advice or tips on how to make these worksheets more fun and interactive I’d really appreciate it!

Wednesday, 15 January 2014

Chinese New Year

Understanding the World: People and Communities

Chinese New Year has a wealth of different activities datesand resources to enhance an Understanding the World lesson about People and Communities.

The children are always interested in different cultures and customs, especially something they are unfamiliar with.

Chinese New Year dates depend on the lunar calendar. It falls on a different day each year.

You may see the words ‘Kung hei fat choi’ associated with Chinese New Year. This is the Cantonese way of saying happy Chinese New Year. Cantonese is mainly only spoken in Hong Kong. The majority of people in China speak Mandarin. The Mandarin way to say Happy New Year is ‘Gong xi fa cai’ (or gong see fah sigh).

I tend to teach the Chinese New Year topic and have accumulated a number of resources over the years.

Please see the lesson plan below..

Monday, 13 January 2014

Worksheets vs. Writing Frames

Why We Don’t Use Worksheets in the Early Years

Worksheets have no place in the Early Years! For a start,no worksheets the children can’t read to answer the questions on the sheets!

I do cringe when I see worksheets used in focus groups or as the main part of the lesson. Every child is writing the same answer, it’s very prescribed and formal.

The Early Years curriculum is designed to be creative, free and individual. There is room for every little person to express themselves and explore their own interests.

Saying all that, I have used worksheets, everyone does. I tend to use them as independent activities that the children can access at their own level. I also use guided work when doing handwriting or letter formation. Worksheets have their place but if you can use an alternative, that’s by far the better option.

Saturday, 11 January 2014

Understanding the World: Science

Space: the Final Frontier

I’ll admit it now, I am a sci fi geek. I love doing the space topic! To shoe horn Space into the long term plan as a theme, it appears under the topic of ‘science’ although it may not be very scientific.

There are many different aspects of science that you could teach in Reception and Nursery, but my favourites are space (obviously) and mini-beasts.

There are many different activities for a Space term topic. See this brainstorm..

space brainstorm

For literacy and numeracy, I have already posted about the Space Journal. It’s a really fun resource that the children enjoy making.

1 copy The Space Journal has room for Expressive Arts and Design, Literacy, Numeracy and Understanding the World.

The front page has room for children to design their own space agency badge. They can name their space agency and design a logo.

There’s also pages for non-fiction information, an alien fact file, an astronaut passport page, a phonics page for non-sense words, labelling a space rocket and a maths page.

The Space Journal has a thematic approach to the space topic. Avoiding worksheets, the Space Journal provides writing frames for the children to write whatever they think of.

My introduction to the Space topic involves children boarding a space shuttle and taking a journey into space.

However, before they can do this, they need a Space Passport!

Thursday, 9 January 2014

History: Now and Then


While you can teach Early Years children facts about history which they can recall, I believe the best way to help children understand the past is to compare the past with now.

For three years in a row now, I have taught my class the Monarchs Song from Horrible Histories. I usually only teach the chorus but this year the children asked for the ‘William the conker’ song so I’ve tried to teach them the entire song.

You can find the lyrics for the songs here. There are lots of fun songs teaching the children about history, however I would listen to the songs first as they can sometimes be inappropriate for the very little ones. I’d particularly avoid Pachacuti and Evil Emperors. (Although, my 6 year old nephew in year two absolutely loves those particular horrible histories!)

Compare Now and Then

I personally believe the easiest way for little children to understand the past is to compare now and then.

For example,

granddad and his mum scan0016
This is my granddad as a child in the late 1920’s. This is me as a child in the late 1980’s (although you could use a photo from a child in your class, or in a different class)

The first thing children may say is that one picture is in colour and one picture is in black and white. This is where you can ask the children which is the oldest picture?

Tuesday, 7 January 2014

Understanding the World: Science

Sink or Float

The easiest science lesson to do with little children is the sink or float lesson. It’s a very visual lesson and once completed, you can leave the water play out for the children to experiment for themselves.

It opens a discussion about suitable materials for boats, children can make predictions and easily see the results of their predictions.

I have done this lesson with children as young as 2 years old. They enjoy the instant nature of the experiments and are able to see which objects sink or float instantly.

sink or float

picture from

I wouldn’t expect children to be writing anything down about this experiment. When I do this experiment, I write a lot of notes about what they children have said, or video their predictions, and take photos of their independent play.

Sunday, 5 January 2014

Fine Motor Skills

Essential for Pre-Writing

Please see my previous post on Fine Motor Skills.

There are many different stages to developing writing skills.

fine motor

Each of these steps are vital in developing children’s fine motor skills. It is not usually possible to skip any of the steps. As good Early Years practitioners, we need to provide opportunities for the children to take part in activities which are at the right level for them, to move on to the next steps.

Friday, 3 January 2014

A Phonics Lesson

30 Minutes Discrete Teaching

There are many different phonics teaching schemes each with their own merits.

  • Jolly Phonics, ‘a fun and child centred approach to teaching literacy through synthetic phonics’.
  • Read Write Inc. Phonics (also known as Ruth Miskin Literacy or RML) is a lively phonic programme that gets children reading and writing fast. 
  • Letters and Sounds, a phonics resource published by the Department for Education and Skills in 2007. It aims to build children's speaking and listening skills in their own right as well as to prepare children for learning to read by developing their phonic knowledge and skills.
  • Sounds-Write is a quality first phonics programme and is acknowledged by the DfE as meeting all its criteria for an effective phonics teaching programme.
  • Phonics International by Debbie Hepplewhite, Aimed at the parents/homeschoolers who want to teach their children to read at home using the 'synthetic phonics' approach.

And there are even more! For the correct pronunciation of the phonic sounds as they are taught these days, please see the Alphablocks!

Despite the different schemes, there is an advised lesson format for discrete phonics teaching.

  1. Revisit and Review
  2. Teach
  3. Practice
  4. Apply

Every teacher has their own way of doing things and this is my way. It’s not the only way but if you are looking for ideas on how to teach Phonics in Reception, this is an example.

Wednesday, 1 January 2014

New Page!

Good Websites

I have created a new page called Good Websites, it’s full of websites I’ve found in my searches of good practice.

This page will be regularly updated so keep checking back for good website links!